A while back, I viewed the art of Sherry Bittle differently than I see it today. After getting to know her through interviews and personal conversations, tidbits of her personality and tastes reframed my perspective. This seems to be the case as we become more familiar with an artist's interests in general: our vantage point naturally shifts and restructures the backstory we created without this information. We integrate these details to inform our interpretation of the work, and possibilities emerge to enhance our understanding given these new contextual elements.
Sea Gull, Baltimore Oriole, Barn Swallow (all graphite and gouache on paper)
Let me try to lose this new perspective for a few moments, though. On the surface of Bittle's pieces: . . . Delicate versus solid. Detailed, impermanent graphite etches in the characteristics of feathers and features of an owl or barn swallow or a flamingo. . . We get the feeling we can rub these lives out with the oils from our fingertips if we were to touch these drawings. Negative space is their backdrop, but tendrils of striated opaque gouache in blues, reds, pinks, soft greens and yellows emerge from the downy of the bird. Or do they extend? It is possible that they infiltrate the bird, attack it, burrow into it . . . Invade it . . . . Attack isn't the right word though: the palette pulls you away from a more menacing narrative.
Blue Bird, Ditty Do and You Know Kitties (all created with ceramic and embroidery thread).
Before I knew some of Sherry's background, I would have lingered on a more superficial exploration of space and design. This exploration continues into her three dimensional forms as well: familiar vintage ceramics are reconfigured with extensions of nebulous shapes resembling the spindly forms we see in her two dimensional work. These extensions are tightly wrapped in alternating striations of colored floss at different widths. She is meticulous in the seams of where these striations seem to merge or end. It is apparent that she is dedicated to the careful craftsmanship of articulating threads together so that we can see a stitch-less design element that further emphasizes the shape this twine embraces. There is an elegant cohabitation of feminine domesticity and curious sci-fi, and knowing a little bit about Sherry, this makes sense to me. Her work is something I marvel at, covet . . . and am ultimately inspired by.
We chatted with Sherry in Episode 85 of The Large Glass. Check it out: