Some people can tell you almost exactly when they knew, just knew, what it was they were supposed to do with their life. That moment for Sarah Harris was in the 5th grade at South Highlands when she was chosen to design the cover for the 5th grade play playbill. That meant going to her art teacher’s house and working together to create her vision.
That is a big deal for an 11-year-old. The teacher, Judy Ball Johnson, played a big role in motivating and encouraging Sarah’s efforts. Fast forward to high school at Magnet and the legendary art teacher, Edward Allen. Sarah learned even more through CMH’s numerous art options that spanned the fine arts mediums – painting, mixed media, pottery, photography, drawing and more – under his tutelage. Sarah was also a member of an after-school art program led by Shirlene Alexander and Marabella Dunn.
By the time Sarah entered Centenary College, she had already studied art with Shreveport-Bossier’s art luminaries. She continued her work, earned an art degree with a minor in business, met Leif Sherry, the man she would marry, and armed with her faith in God and her love of art, she stepped out into the real world.
And then it hit her. If she wanted to earn a living, she would need more than a degree in art. She had always been intrigued with architecture, so the next step in her journey was to enroll in graduate school and pursue a degree in that field. While Sarah worked on her masters at Washington University in St. Louis, Leif was earning his advanced degree at Northwestern in Chicago.
The next stop on her journey would be an internship at the prestigious OKA Architect firm. Sarah professes that she learned so much more on the job (she was hired full time after that first year) than in the classroom. “I found it intriguing because it’s a lot like putting the pieces of a puzzle together. I’ve always thought I’d make a good detective because I like to figure things out,” said Sarah. Because she thought she and Leif would remain in the Chicago area, she moved to Grunsfeld Shafer Architects, a firm that specialized in high-end residential buildings. Then, wouldn’t you know, the couple’s path would land them in the Washington D.C. area where Leif was offered a job once he graduated. Sarah found her place in the Rippeteau Architecture Firm, known for residential, office spaces and historic restoration. In fact, Rippeteau did the work on a historic church’s steeple that was designed by the same architect that designed the nation’s Capital Dome.
The couple hit their first huge pothole in their life path. Leif became ill and was unable to work. To add to the crisis, Sarah was expecting their first child. And, she had broken her leg playing soccer. Her faith was being tested and suddenly, decisions had to be made that would affect the trajectory of Sarah’s journey. The next phase of her life brought her full circle to Shreveport, her home. While working for Mike McSwain Architects, she was involved in the Cyber Innovation Building and the renovation of the Municipal Auditorium. With another baby on the way, Sarah found it increasingly difficult to give 100% to her career. Her family became her priority.
So, she decided to work for herself, set her own hours and enjoy both career and family. Diamond B Designs was born. She got back into her art creating custom pieces for many Shreveport homes. She also drafted for interior designer Jenny Johnston. One of her favorite projects was one where the client, Bill Kendig, gave her free reign to remodel a pool house – putting full trust in her ability to bring two existing buildings together and utilizing dead cat space in the design. Everything was looking up again for the Sherry family when tragically, Leif passed away.
BY SEVA MAY