We had the good fortune of connecting with Tess Mosko Scherer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tess, how do you think about risk?
I love this question. Risk has been a topic of my thoughts these past few years. Somehow, it always comes back to Risk. Risk is different for everyone. When I was younger, I had thought of risk as something grand – moving, leaving a job, saying I love you. What I have come to learn is that risks don’t always have to be grand, they just have to be a stretch beyond your comfort zone. Something to move you beyond yourself and keep you from becoming complacent in your life. It is the change, the growth, and the expansion that the risks bring that matters. I live a small life. That is not to say it is without meaning or impact, because it has both. Through learning how to lean-in to being uncomfortable, uncertain and vulnerable I have taken larger personal and professional risks. For nearly 30 years I played it safe in the art world by owning and operating a gallery. Representing other artists kept me in the field, but not in the arena. I finally stepped in fully about 10 years ago after closing the gallery and devoting myself to the making and showing of my work. That was a big risk. One I have never regretted.
It is important for me to work with others, to help others find their voice or expression in the world. I do this through The World Academy for the Future of Women, The Arizona Artists Guild and my private coaching clients. Jerrie Ueberle, founder of the World Academy for the Future of Women has given me that opportunity to expand myself globally. As a facilitator for WAFW, I have had extended stays in China and Bangladesh facilitating women’s leadership and self-awareness working with college age women in parts of the world where women are oppressed. Through the outreach program at Arizona Artists Guild I have been fortunate to work with Veterans, Survivors of Suicide, Native American Elders and Non-English speaking Adult Refugees. This work is humbling. Although my intention is to have an impact on others, I grow from each encounter as well. I love this reciprocity.
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 have always been curious about human nature. What makes people behave as they do? Perhaps I should have studied psychology, and could be the reason I am a certified life coach. My art explores the inner terrain which some of us choose to explore and others choose to leave uncharted. Fascinating!
Working with paper presents its own challenges. I manipulate paper in a variety of ways dictated by the direction of the piece. Often I distress the paper, working it wet so it can be sculpted and transformed. The finished works are more akin to a collage where parts are sewn together to create the final work. It is a metaphor for the many aspects of Self, as well as being part of a greater whole; a local, national and global society. Each component of the composition has a symbolic meaning from the torn edges to the frayed threads. I use color sparingly in a way that it emphasizes the meaning without taking all the attention. I want the viewer to see the whole piece first and then discover the elements of the work. Hopefully they find themselves invited into the piece.
What I am learning about my work is that there is a greater emphasis on mark making than there had been in the past. I find myself compelled by the idea of marks, how the marks convey our moods, temperament or identity. Marks can be tentative, powerful, or even obscured. I don’t know where this inquiry will take me or the direction of the work.
I write about the process during the making of each piece or series. Personal knowledge is revealed through the act of making art as well as from the art itself. For me, this is another layer to the work – it is not just about the creation of the work, but learning from it. It becomes medicine and I share the medicine of the work.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
This is a tough question as we are steeped in social distancing and sheltering at home. This is the new normal for a while, so I would probably focus more on the desert landscape with all its diversity and untamed grandeur. From the Kartchner Caverns outside of Tucson to Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, the Botanical Gardens and so many great hiking trails throughout the state. There are so many great artists and art being made. Since we can’t go to galleries, we would take a tour of the murals and public art. Janet Echelman’s “Her Secret is Patience” in downtown Phoenix is a favorite.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have been blessed with the support and encouragement of so many people – too many to name. At the forefront, my family has been and continues to be on the sidelines of my life cheering me on. I moved to central Phoenix after shuttering the gallery. I knew I had to dive into the arts community and had no idea how to start. In one day, I joined about 4 or 5 arts organizations and attended a meeting of the Arizona Artists Guild that night. What I found there was encouragement, what I developed there were deep friendships, community and a way to pay it forward. I am grateful for the friendship and mentorship I received from Laura Cohen-Hogan, David L. Bradley, and Constance McBride.
This summer I will wrap up my three-year membership with the Eye Lounge Collective. Visionaries Greg Esser and Cindy Dasch opened the experimental exhibition space which has been home to dozens of artists through its 20 years. Through Eye Lounge, I have developed deep friendships and have had the opportunity to explore my work and share it with a broader audience. I am so grateful for the camaraderie and community forged through this unique and special collective. As co-president with Gina DeGideo we are navigating this uncharted territory of Covid-19 which has brought us even closer together. It is an honor to be a part of the Eye Lounge family.
I am moved by the writings of so many authors. My interest is varied but focused on understanding human emotions and actions, be it through art, writing or other forms of self discovery. Of late, I have been reading and studying the poetic work of David Whyte. I love his book Consolations which explores the underlying meaning of everyday words. His words have found their way into my work. “When Women Were Birds” by Terry Tempest Williams inspired and influenced The Cartography of Silence, my solo show at Eye Lounge earlier this year. Another favorite, Francis Weller’s “The Wild Edge of Sorrow”. Specializing in grief, Weller explores this universal emotion and how it influences our lives, the difficulties of moving through grief and the importance of moving through the emotion. Right now, with Covid, we all are steeped in grief and his work is quite timely.
Website: moskoscherer.com and
Youtube: Tess Mosko Scherer