We had the good fortune of connecting with Sherrie Posternak and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sherrie, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
My perception of how the question is worded is that it is assumed that work and life are separate entities. In my case, my work is a subset of my life. I have passion about all aspects of my life, including my work. If I didn’t have passion, I wouldn’t do the work. Over time, different aspects of my work have given me more or less fulfillment. When that happens, I change the balance. For example, my work has morphed from art center program director, to jewelry designer, to crafts shop/gallery owner, to artist of collage and mosaic, to accessories designer and artist of encaustic and mixed media. Those changes occurred as I tended to lose interest in the mediums. For the last several years, I am juggling with the balance between my accessories design business Cereza Oilcloth Studio (developed mainly for cash flow) and my true love encaustic painting and mixed media, which I have been involved with for more than a dozen years. I am now spending less time on the former, more on the latter. How does all my work fits into the rest of my personal life? My friends and romantic interest also have their passions that require much of their attention, and they know that I cannot share my time and company with them if they didn’t respect the fact that my work is a very important aspect of my life.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’d like to speak about my art practice. I’ve been painting with encaustic for at least a dozen years. What initially drew me in is the warmth, mystery, and depth of this revived ancient natural medium. Additionally, it seems that as many artists there are working with encaustic, the virtual diversity of ways the material can be worked with and the breadth of imagery and “looks” that can result, exist. Over the years I have honed my techniques and materials preferences (many times with mixed mediums incorporated), and so more and more viewers recognize my “signature.” I am most excited when viewers are touched emotionally by my work, whether or not they understand exactly what my specific motivation or theme was. It has not been an easy road, as my work is abstract and the inspiration for my work must come from within, not responding to what a particular client wants or what I think the overall market is looking for. I am comfortable with many works not selling, and have responded by teaching, which I was initially not so eager to do but have come to really enjoy. I would like the world to not be afraid of enjoying art. I feel interpretation of a piece is a totally personal, individual thing. A viewer can know that in my case, I utilize whatever materials and techniques will best tell my story. Color, surface design, and texture coax the viewer to make a more detailed look at a piece. Abstraction can allow the viewer to “see” without prejudice. My themes include the integration of the masculine/feminine, organic/geometric, and other seeming opposites. I also address time and erosion of man-made objects. Occasionally there’s a story to tell. Your story may be different than mine, but that’s okay!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would want to give my best friend a taste of everything that is “Tucson” that I enjoy. Let’s start with restaurants. Unfortunately several of my faves have closed down recently. There are still some great ones left, such as Zayna’s (Mediterranean), Scordato’s (Italian), Wild Garlic Grill, and Pure Poke and Prep. The natural world deserves top attention. Bests are Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, a ride up to Mt. Lemmon, a walk or bike ride along the Rillito, and Sabino Canyon. For culture, the Tucson Museum of Art, Etherton Gallery, and Monterey Court for music (and dinner) are musts. Strolling and shopping along 4th Avenue, St. Philips Plaza, and the University of Arizona are all fun.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Most relatives and all friends have given me encouragement in my artistic path. Specifically I’d like to thank Miles Conrad (artist, mentor, gallery owner) for his wisdom near the beginning of my journey with the medium of encaustic. Likewise, Joanne Mattera and Cherie Mittenthal, former and current directors of the International Encaustic Conference, did and still recognize my artistic sensibility and expertise in teaching workshops about the medium. The Conference itself which I have attended for about a dozen years, is an amazing networking opportunity and venue for learning and sharing. Finally I’d like to thank Liz Hernandez, founder and director of ARTEZONA Gallery (www.artezona.com) for recently launching the online art gallery and accepting me to be a part of this venture.
Some photos by Robin Stancliff