Spring 2018

Broad brushstroke

Photography by Steve Niedorf

What’s in Ellis Sherman’s backpack? “A paintbrush,” he says. Even over school breaks, you can find Sherman in the art studio at the University of Minnesota Morris exploring different processes and techniques in large, colorful paintings. 

The senior from Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, started out with his eye on medical school. He put those plans on hold after taking an art class. “Art is one of the things I love,” he says, adding that he discovered his passion during a drawing class in high school. “I wanted to explore that more.”

Sherman says he looks to drawing and painting as a way to understand and express his emotions. “I grew up in a society where guys don’t express emotion, and when you do, you’re labeled as too soft, too fragile, not man enough,” he says. “I’ve been trying to get myself out of that cycle, and making art is my way of expressing things I’m not comfortable saying. It’s more accepted that way.”

A recipient of the Josephine L. Merriam scholarship and other support, Sherman wants to earn a master’s in fine arts, then work toward a medical career—a path he admits is unorthodox. He one day hopes to combine art and medicine. “Scholarships have enabled me to be here and chase my dreams,” he says.