Monday, May 15, 2017

Day 102: Sherrie Posternak

Sherrie Posternak takes advantage of all of her life’s passions—making and teaching art, travel, learning about other cultures, becoming fluent in the Spanish language, and building her new business designing accessories. Everything involves communication and the integration of the variety of life’s disciplines. Within the context of the arts, Sherrie chooses whatever medium or technique is most appropriate to express her ideas—encaustic, photography, ceramic, glass, fiber. She began her encaustic practice 10 years ago (, and has had solo and group shows in the U.S. and Mexico.  She teaches workshops in all phases of the encaustic practice, including specialty courses in transferred and embedded imagery and working with mixed media. She self-published a catalogue on the topic of her art installation “A Memorial for El Tomate.” Images of Sherrie’s work are in the gallery section of the E-book “Contemporary Paper and Encaustic” by Catherine Nash, and Volume I of Linda Robertson’s revised E-book “Embracing Encaustic.

Artist Statement
My encaustic work addresses themes including “seeing” without prejudice. With this in mind, abstract art can allow the viewer to concentrate on the simple pleasure of enjoying color, composition, pattern, and texture; rather than quickly dismissing a piece because it contains known objects or scenes that the viewer has already categorized.
The effects of time and erosion on natural and man-made objects– for example decaying metals with patina, multi-layered painted and peeling doorways, rock strata, and exterior bulletin board postings– fascinate me. I am a lover of this humbling and ego-busting reality that I term “accidental art.”
My life and my art are a continual search for the balance between, and a pleasing combination of; the feminine and the masculine, and the intuitive and the intellectual. Hermann Hesse espoused in his books that one should embrace, not negate, any part of the self, even if these parts seem to be opposed.
I demonstrate these ideas in various ways that are suited for expression in wax: using amazing color and graphic patterning, creating visual depth by layering, and employing textural and transfer techniques.

Sherrie Posternak

El Triunfo De La Vida

Pulp Fiction

Real Life Reel Life

Sampler 5

Solamente El Cuerpo Muere

What made your arrive as encaustic as a medium? What makes you love the medium? 
Throughout my creative life, I have been involved in a number of mediums… photography, metals (jewelry), mosaics, collage, and now encaustic since 2007. Photography speaks to my sense of honoring and capturing reality, metals for both its graphic and sculptural expression, and mosaics and collage for their excitement of color, abstraction, and allowing me to pixellate and reorder what’s given to me. After noticing that I was continually drawn to gallery and museum artworks made of encaustic, I knew I had to explore and learn the process. It is the medium of encaustic that offers me all of the above, and more. When I work with encaustic paint, I am able to achieve a depth of dimension, reveal a world or maintain its mystery, combine the wax with other friendly mediums like wood, paper, textile, low-fire ceramics, rusted metal, and translate my thoughts and ideas into real objects without anything being lost in the translation.

What would you say is your artistic process? How has your process changed throughout time?
My ideas for artwork come most readily as I am falling asleep or just waking up. I am most open to my creativity at those times. Rarely is an idea fully formed before I just begin. I may only know what materials I am going to use, what my color palette will be, or what the rough composition will look like. Once I begin, the rest of the ideas for resolution come piece by piece or in a rush. I can best describe my process of working as a conversation between me and the artwork. I get emotional or physical cues after working a bit, that tell me “yes” “no” or “change that a little bit.” I respond and the cues continue until the piece tells me it is finished. Then when a piece is finished and it is shown, it becomes a gift from me to the viewer, leading to more “conversations.” My process has not really changed over time—what has changed is my comfort level with my process as the right one for me, not comparing it to other artists’  processes.

Is your work big or small? Which size do you prefer?
The size of my works very from very small (let’s say 4”x6” postcard size) to medium/large (36” square or so). I’ve also made a 2-room size installation, and a number of works that are multiples hung in a grid format. Most of my pieces hang on the wall, although sculptural pieces and artist books are also in my inventory. I prefer the size and format that best suit the ideas I am conveying. Once in a while the practicalities of size have an effect on my decision, as in difficulties and cost of transporting larger works to venues outside of my studio.

How has your art education improved your art? What is the art class you learned the most in? Your favorite teacher?
I have a BA in Art, no BFA, no MFA, no doctorate. My art education includes short term workshops, reading, experimenting, collaborating, networking, practicing, and just plain being involved in life with travel and relationships with others. Making art is just another form of conversation. I can’t recall which class or workshop has taught me the most, nor any favorite teacher. They have all been, and continue to be a blessing in my development as an artist and a human being.

In your artist statement you say you see your art as a balance? How does this pertain to your life? 
Yes my art is a balance, sometimes between seeming opposites. As I believe all individuals are complex, thinking and behaving  in response to diverse stimuli and situations, none of these responses should be negated. All aspects of one’s personality are to be celebrated. My language of visual art may describe, many times within a single piece, some “opposites” such as feminine/masculine, organic/geometric, intuitive/analytical, or life/death.  All these descriptors are part of a continuum or a cycle. Indeed, the making of works for a solo exhibit I had in a museum in Guanajuato, Mexico, titled Corazones y Almas Hacia los Cielos (Hearts and Souls Toward the Heavens) about the natural cycle of life and death, truly helped me psychologically prepare for the impending death of my ill father.

You’ve been in different artistic communities? What is the difference between those and the Arizona scene?
I lived and worked at Peter’s Valley Crafts Center from 1980-1982. Residents from various disciplines (photography, blacksmithing, textiles, ceramics, etc) had their studios open to the public plus helped with bringing in workshop teachers and doing other projects. I was an assistant in the gallery, assistant to the director, and then co-director. This experience was invaluable but so long ago (when my medium was jewelry-making). It did prepare me for other work that was to come, especially owning Visa Fine Crafts,  a shop I opened in Virginia in 1988 and had for 9 years. It is hard to compare to living as an artist in Arizona, as I work mostly on my own. Still, everything I learned at Peters Valley is still pertinent now, such as having a feel for how the arts and the crafts fit in to the whole living community, and having an empathy for the roles of all the “players” such as artists, galleries, museums, shops, materials vendors, viewers and collectors, government, etc.

You’ve worked in the art business as a gallery assistant, How does working in the art field improve your art marketing? How does it improve your art?
Working/living at Peters Valley and having my shop Vista Fine Crafts gave me a well-rounded experience in all aspects of the crafts and art business and business in general. At PV I became knowledgable about the top craftspeople in their fields, and came to a better understanding of the history of craft and art, and art in the context of American history. As I was stingy with Vista’s budget, I decided to learn how to do my own graphic design, my own bookkeeping, my own taxes, my own show curating, my own buying and displaying, my own everything. I did depend on advice from other business owners and SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) consults, but it was the school of hard knocks, approached without fear, that taught me the most. All this knowledge helps me in both marketing and making of art because  I see art not as an isolated endeavor but rather an important integral component of the soul and history of both an individual and a people.

What community in the Arizona scene would you say you belonged to? Which galleries are your favorite?
These days I am a little less social than before (plus I’m almost 63!). My studio is an outbuilding on my property. I am trying to balance at least four segments of my life—- artist, entrepreneur (I started a business  1 1/2 years ago Cereza Oilcloth Studio LLC in which I design and sell accessories for women, men, and the home made of Mexican oilcloth), helping my elderly mom, and my personal life. A number of years ago I co-founded Sazwax (Southern Arizona Wax Artists) and was very involved with meetings, workshops, and group exhibits. Currently I am a member of PaperWorks (the Sonoran Collective for Paper and Book Arts) but am no longer a member of the board, where my duties included chairing the workshop committee.  I attend many art openings and have many artist friends. Lately I have had more of a desire to connect with people who span the spectrum of the arts and the humanities. For example dance, music, and literature are other art forms that can positively inform the visual arts and my own work. I never intend to stop learning.
My favorite gallery in Tucson is ConradWilde Gallery (the owner Miles Conrad has been a mentor of mine and is probably solely responsible for the growth of the energetic encaustic community here). Davis Dominguez is another reputable Tucson gallery and the Tucson Museum of Art hangs some outstanding shows. In the Phoenix region I enjoy Lisa Sette Gallery and the museums at Mesa Art Center, SMOCA, ASU, and PAM. I was a  big fan of the now-defunct Cervini Haas Gallery. As I travel to Guanajuato Mexico yearly, sometimes for extended periods of time, I respect the quality museums there. They consistently show artists of high caliber especially in the mediums of photography and printmaking.

Is there something in the future you would like to artistically experiment with? What is your next big venture?
I continue to experiment with mixed media. A core element of my artistic philosophy is that the message is much more important that the medium. So, I utilize the material(s) or medium(s) that will best express a particular idea. Many of my encaustic pieces combine elements such as paper, fiber, metal, wood, tissue, photography, and ceramic. Other possibilities include installations or collaborations with other artists.

I also enjoy teaching. My new studio can accommodate up to four or five students at a time. I also teach at outside venues, including Art Unraveled in Phoenix (early August) and the International Encaustic Conference in Provincetown MA (early June).

I am now almost fluent in Spanish and I love travel.  And as I am totally immersed in the arts and culture of Guanajuato Mexico, I am considering putting together a travel/study encaustic workshop in that region. I have connections with an amazing B and B that has a studio space, and an equally talented tour guide who is also a chef…stay tuned, and tell me of your interest! or

1 comment:

  1. I like your assortment of artwork. AND I love the colors!