Meet the Artist: Michael Sherrill

  • MICHAEL SHERRILL: When I decided I was going to try to make, in the beginning, pottery, I moved to western North Carolina. I live in a place where there’s rocks, and moving water, and centipedes, and blossoming flowers, and it is an enrichment to my soul to have that right there at my door.

    I had sort of began to live with these rhododendrons in that environment, and the colors in the rhododendrons were unbelievable. I mean, they were dead or dying, or transitional leaf would be like, you pick it up and go, “Unbelievable. I mean, this is fake, it’s totally fake, because colors aren’t that way.” So that became sort of the emphasis for that piece, is that warmness, that golden-ness, the heat of the day, and trying to communicate these colors that are real but unreal.

    With "Two Sides of Tea," I really had been working fairly minimal, so I was choosing to make things more universal or archetypal, and part of that was really to sort of allow it to be more like an icon or a symbol of something. Because it’s no longer—they’re large, they’re bigger than scale for someone to use. That’s kind of what I’m after, is trying to have something that would pop in your mind if someone says “teapot,” and for me to have this white with black and then totally blackened metallic, it’s really talking about that sort of right and left side of my brain, and other people’s brains, and the way they perceive things.

    I was told once by someone who said, “You’re seeing that thing you’re describing to me in your head.”

    And I said, “Yes.”

    “And you can roll it around and look at all sides of it.”

    And I said, “Yeah.”

    And the person said, “You know, I can’t do that?”

    I thought everyone could. I think most sculptors would lean that way. I think people that are really good surgeons would be very much three-dimensional thinkers, and so there are a lot of people where that kind of reasoning is important, and as a sculptor, and as an artist, to me, it’s been invaluable.

    From teapots to ceramic renderings of flora and fauna, Michael Sherrill talks about the development of his work over the course of his forty-year career, the inspiration he takes from the natural world, and his 2019 exhibition, Michael Sherrill Retrospective at SAAM’s Renwick Gallery. 

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