Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Art Space Talk: Kerry Shea

I recently interviewed artist Kerry Shea. Kerry has spent years experimenting with her clay sculptures. She strives to convey raw emotion with her work. This is an artist who is interested in pushing the boundaries of traditional expression while revealing that "imperfection" can be most intriguing.
Kerry has discovered the power of clay as a vehicle to comment on the human condition. Her dedication to clay has allowed her to reveal a vast range of emotions within the context of her work. Kerry feels that capturing honest emotions in clay furthers an understanding of what it means to be human.
Q. Can you tell our readers about your artistic process? Does your background play a part in your artistic process?
A. "My hands have always been guided by a powerful quest to interpret and reconfigure reality. The arts were an important outlet for expression since I can recall. Pushing the boundaries while exploring traditional media during my formal education uncovered an enduring fascination for quirky personalities. Growing up with a mentally ill sibling I came to realize the arts would be absolutely essential for my own emotional health. The mind/body connection cannot be refuted: visualization techniques allowed my escape into my imaginary world when facing surreal odds."

Q. What medium(s) have you used?
A. "Within the visual arts field, my creations have ranged from wood, clay sculpture, painting, printmaking, photography and jewelry design."
Q. Discuss your art. What thoughts are behind your work?
A. "While sculpting my ceramic figures, the subconscious and intuition share the role of revealing lifes joys and challenges. Each vision seems to require a different medium or mixed media which I've recently added collaged clay, glass, metal, stones with other found objects."

Q. You've worked with clay for six years. Why did you decide to focus on clay sculpting?
A. "Focusing on clay sculpting for the past six years came about in an unexpected way: When my child was diagnosed with a rare disease she endured many hospitalizations requiring endless hours of painful procedures. Being the primary caregiver, I sought the most forgiving medium for her to focus her energy on: clay. Malleable, soft, and great for pounding out frustrations, she bloomed. And while her disease remains, her friends call her Sunshine. Her physicians also attribute the ongoing art therapy to her incredibly optimistic outlook.
All of my art is an evolving narration of interactions within our society. The social implications stem from my personal experiences but become universal as each viewer carries a history within. Often I've questioned whether creating works which often are not considered beautiful, but instead frankly show the dark side of life are valuable. Then I began receiving emails from abuse survivors who expressed their gratitude for creating an open forum. Once, a woman said my work felt as if it wrapped around her like a warm quilt. . . At that point, I knew my life was saved for a purpose. Capturing honest emotions in clay furthers an understanding of what it means to be human."
Q. What do you hope people see in your work?
A. "I would say creating and teaching art are the perfect combination of my enduring love for people. By sharing what I've learned and honestly expressing a diverse range of emotions I hope to show others struggling that there is a healthy way to cope."

Q. Can you discuss one of your pieces and explain the thoughts behind it?
A. "Personally, as a childhood and domestic abuse survivor the creative process literally saved my life. Being able to speak through my clay about society's violence, natural disasters, mental illness, and interpersonal relationships helps me cope when the pain is unbearable. LIFE TRACKS (image above) is one example of a woman's struggle to overcome a painful history. The tracks show how she progresses and regresses throughout her healing. The butterfly represents freedom from abuse."

Q. Are you represented by a gallery?
A. " I have to spend more time caring for my family's medical needs than creating art. Since the creative process restores my energy I've not had the opportunity to look for gallery representation."

Q. Where have you exhibited in the past?
A. "Amsterdam Whitney Gallery (Chelsea, New York, NY),
WI Academy's Steenbock Gallery."

Q. Where can we see more of your art. Do you have a website?
A. "I'm hoping to find someone willing to barter a sculpture for creating my own website. My work may be viewed on these group sites:

Q. Do you have a degree? If so, where did you study?
A. "I graduated from Edgewood College, cum laude, with a bachelor of science degree in art education."
I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Kerry Shea. I would like to personally thank Kerry for taking the time to do this interview... best of luck to your family!
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

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