Blessing of the Inlet watercolor set for auction

“Blessing of the Inlet: 20-Year Commemorative” by Sherry Strickland Martin.

They say life imitates art, and for St. James High School teacher Sherry Strickland Martin, that is beautifully true.

Her artwork has been chosen for the 20th annual Blessing of the Inlet offical portrait, and the artwork will be auctioned off this weekend. It’s her love of art and teaching that has made Martin a go-to person in education, in art and as an inspiration.

A native of Horry County, Martin has impacted hundreds of Murrells Inlet students and seen them grow personally and spiritually. As part of her devotion to teching, she had been asked to write Chrysalis letters for some of her students. Coastal Carolina Chrysalis is a three-day retreat where high school students are brought together with a goal for them to encounter Christ.

Chrysalis has existed on the Grand Strand for more than 20 years with more than 1,500 high school students taking part.

Martin said she learned of Chrysalis several years ago and has shared notes of agape love to her students ever since.

“It is life changing,” Martin said. “I was brought up in church all my life, but I never got to experience what I’m seeing in the youth from this program. We are living in a time these days where God is being taken out of everything.”

In honor of Belin Memorial United Methodist Church’s 20th Annual Blessing of the Inlet, Martin said she felt a call to do something special.

“Sometimes God simply puts it in your heart how to combine the talents He’s gifted you with to do His work,” she said. “It is the love of these students, my love for the Lord combined with my love of painting and my love of this beautiful place we live in that brought about the idea for this painting.” Martin crafted together myriad images that honor and commemorate the Blessing of the Inlet, as well as the home and refuge to the students that she loves.

In her artwork is the wildlife of the Lowcountry – a fish and a crab from the waters, a pelican and a great blue heron from the air, as well as images of the church and the well-known cross that overlooks the marsh. Interestingly, she pays homage to the annual commemorative art pieces that came before her with small renditions floating on the right side.

She said she wanted the painting to impact, benefit and prolong the ministry of Chrysalis and ensure that students will be able to attend for many years to come.

The original watercolor will be on display and for silent auction at the Coastal Carolina Chrysalis tent, to the left of the sntertainment stage during the Blessing of the Inlet on Saturday, May 7, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Belin Memorial UMC in Murrells Inlet. Officially titled “Blessing of the Inlet: 20-Year Commemorative,” all proceeds from the sale of the painting will be divided between Coastal Carolina Chrysalis and Belin’s youth ministries in a silent auction with a starting bid of $1,000. In addition to witnessing and bidding on Martin’s artwork, attendees will be able to learn more about Coastal Carolina Chrysalis and its purpose “to spread the love of God to area high school students,” organizers said.

Interested collectors will need to be present to bid on the painting and can learn more about the Blessing of the Inlet at www.blessingoftheinlet.com and Coastal Carolina Chrysalis at www.ccchrysalis.com or contact Martin directly at sherstricklandmartin@gmail.com.