Sandra Cohen | Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts

Sandra Cohen


Biography/Artist Statement

Sandy Cohen's artistic story is that of a neglected gift at last being opened and explored late in life.

A Chicago native, Sandy was encouraged early on to develop her artistic talent.  In high school, she was awarded a scholarship course at the Chicago Art Institute, and she painted still lifes in the studio of Ann Roman.  Later, as she pursued other interests, Sandy managed to engage her artistic impulse in a variety of ways:  through occasional art work at universities, drawing and painting at L’Ecole des Beaux Arts while visiting France, or taking up pottery and photography in her spare time.  But for most of her adult life, artwork was not her focus - while rearing her family, practicing law as an Assistant Attorney General of Maryland, teaching at the University of Maryland School of Law, or managing shoreline reconstruction on the Chesapeake Bay.  When she eventually retired from those pursuits, her irresistible grandchildren at last inspired her into portraiture.  In 2009, she began, cold, painting their portraits, after decades of distraction … and hasn’t stopped painting since. 

Taking advantage of figure and portrait models at Maryland Hall co-ops, she quickly honed her talent, and was encouraged by recognition from more established artists.  Rob Liberace, an internationally renowned master of portrait and figure, seeing her at an easel during a workshop, was amazed that Sandy had not been painting all her life.  You can’t not paint, he remarked.  Judges of juried exhibitions have noted her rare gift for powerful portraits that capture personality. 

Sandy’s work is often selected for regional and national shows, and has been displayed at BWI International airport and numerous galleries.  In May, 2013, she had a solo exhibit at the Maryland Federation of Art, showing 22 portraits of Annapolitans, where Sandy’s works received separate awards from three independent judges.

Having begun late in life to give rein to her talent, and being largely self-taught simply by doing, Sandy’s work is not intentionally derivative of a particular school or style.  Her work reflects her response to a subject with the chosen materials at hand.  In her portraits, she attempts a sensitive likeness that reaches for the core -- being drawn by and aiming to render a unique aspect of her subject’s personality. 

While Sandy continues to refine the exacting work of portraiture in oil paints, pastels, and watercolor, and she enjoys now running the artists’ figure co-op at Maryland Hall, she also looks forward to expanding the focus of her artwork as an Artist in Residence here. 

AIR Term ends August 2014