Artist: Sheri Rush, Progress of the Opus, 84” x 116.5”, spray paint, acrylic and oil on canvas, 2017
The image above, by Chicago artist Sheri Rush, received my artist award in excellence, through her inclusion in the online exhibition “New Beginnings”, on view from January 20 – March 20, 2018, and curated by Renee Phillips, Director of Manhattan Arts International. See Renee’s article here.
For this award, I was looking for a compelling image, one that invited me in, to enter another world, and be visually surprised by what I find there. Technical competence is important, but even more so was the work’s ability to reveal the artist’s personality, point of view, and inventive bravery.
The image of Rush’s entry, Progress of the Opus, had an immediate appeal for me, encouraging an impromptu visit to her website to better understand her intent and technique, and view more of her paintings. This side trip was not disappointing, offering a clear view of her mature and exquisite body of work.
I was impressed with her highly original technical process, in large scale no less, reminding me somewhat of Gerhard Richter’s early abstracts and overpainted photographs. Yet Rush has genuinely invented her own process utilizing childhood experiences, a strong artistic intent and philosophy with results that are quite extraordinary. Here is another example from her current series entitled Portals of Discovery.
Sheri Rush, Operative Forces, 81” x 114”, spray paint, acrylic and oil on canvas, 2016.
I was also impressed by how quickly Rush moves through ideas, creating large scale series for each of these ideas she calls “projects”, each one catapulting her to the next. Here below are two examples from her previous project entitled Permutations, using shredded photographs along with a gray toned palette.
Even though each project results in artwork that shifts dramatically from the last, Rush maintains her voice and her intentions throughout, to express psychological landscapes that focus on the sublime, and act symbolically as states of emotion. She refers to her paintings as portals, through which the viewer can have a contemplative moment to connect with nature, as a way to cope with a generally fast-paced life, that normally limits time for this connection. Rush has a strong interest in alchemy, and this plays out in her experimental process and techniques. She uses many graffiti style tools, rich layering and photography, as well as alchemical icons and symbols.
Above: Ineradicable, graphite, charcoal, acrylic paint, spray paint and shredded photos on linen, 78” x 60”, 2015. Below: Liminal, 65” x 50”. graphite, charcoal, pastel, acrylic, and shredded photos on paper, 2014.
Rush attributes much of her artistic success, to several professional development opportunities, one of which was sponsored by the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago. Twenty-four artists met every week over a lengthy period of time. Rush participated in this while also attending the Visual Arts Certificate Program at the University of Chicago Graham School Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies. Another opportunity presented itself for Rush at the new Guida Family Creative Wing at the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago. In 2017 Rush was given her first solo show at the Hyde Park Art Center by curator Allison Peters Quinn. In addition to the obvious artistic camaraderie and network advantage from these programs, they were also put in touch with curators and other art professionals.
An important skill she acquired from these studies and opportunities was a sharpened ability to articulate and write about her ideas and work, which she has come to realize is extremely important for artists who wish to be part of the art world in general, and get their work seen.
I look forward to following this energetic, savvy, creatively skilled painter and her impressive works of art.