Signed, Limited Edition "Out-of-the-box Poet" (10x8) print by Zachary Mazwell Stertz


Signed, Limited Edition "Out-of-the-box Poet" (10x8) print by Zachary Mazwell Stertz


"0ut-of-the-box Poet" by Zachary Maxwell Stertz


8 x 10 in Inkjet Print

Edition 25 

The Art Start Portrait Project 2017

Signed by artist

*100% of proceeds benefit Art Start

Add To Cart


“Don’t be that girl or that boy
that’s getting swept away by the ocean.”

“It’s hard,” Shavonne will tell you about living life “inside the box,” especially when that box is constructed from misconceptions and negative expectations.

When Shavonne was 7, her mother passed away suddenly. Shavonne and her 11-year-old sister were taken in by their aunt. A few years later, Shavonne’s sister had a baby at age 16. The aunt, though well intentioned, often voiced her expectation that Shavonne would “end up the same way.”

“I didn’t want that for myself,” Shavonne says with conviction. “I didn’t want to be in that box. You don’t have a teenage life when you have a baby at that age. I’m not that girl.”

Shavonne’s ambitions are as varied and as vivid as her enormous spirit. She is a poet in search of a stage, a caretaker of small creatures. “Poetry affects the future,” she says. “It’s a dream. It lets dreams be expressed in real life.” And what she dreams of is graduating from Cornell with a degree in Veterinary Science. While these visions of her future self might seem disconnected, they come from the same place. “My stories and poems are about love and compassion, understanding. Cats express their feelings through touch and purring; I write stories.”

One of the first things you notice about Shavonne is the power of her clear-eyed vision of herself and her future. She has a fearlessness that allows her to see the unvarnished and often difficult truths without losing sight of what is positive and possible. “There’s some hell out there,” she says. “It’s not all bubbles and raindrops. But you have to get through the hell. It is possible to make it through it. I believe that. I know it.”

When asked what she imagines what her family will think of her portrait, Shavonne says without hesitation, “They’re going to cry. They’re going to be proud. They’ve never reached out of that box. They’re going to see that I am making it out of the box. I want them to see that I’m actually becoming something.”