Sheryl Crowley

Artist Statement

Over this past year I have been followed around by the need to represent the inner turmoil of an anxious mind in the exterior physical body. I have constructed abstract pieces in the past which represented states of mental health but stepping closer to human representation is more challenging and frightening both artistically and personally. As a university student I was shown a photograph of Donatello’s “Mary Magdalene” from the 14th Century. It is a wood sculpture depicting Mary emaciated, ragged and emotionally raw and unguarded. The piece makes me distinctly uncomfortable. I feel unsheltered, deeply moved and viscerally / mentally unsettled. Anxiety and depression happen inside of some of us, often hidden from those around while our minds inside spin and baulk, sink and fragment. What is hidden needs to be seen in concrete form to help us to understand, to have compassion, to see each other. My wish is for you to be moved, unsettled by these images. See yourself or one you know here. We are many who appear calm but have turmoil inside.

I began experimenting with mosaics in the winter of 2005. The rich colours and textures drew me in. I enjoy the physicality in handling and cutting each fragment, in forcing the slurry of grout between the tiles. Then, the moment when I wipe off the excess grout and the finished piece reveals itself … magic!

Many of my designs are generated from photos I have taken. I like to blow the images up, zoom in on one tiny section and discover interesting forms and colours within. Then I dig out my paints and pastels and work up designs based upon those tidbits of life. Other times, the colours or mood of an image will be the inspiration for a mosaic. Recently, found metal and ceramic objects have found their way into the creations both whimsical and dark.

Mosaics speak to us through the mind’s magical ability; gathering tiny fragments of colour and patterns of line, revealing images that stir the emotions and feed the imagination.

What is your creative process like? Is experimentation or play important?

The majority of my pieces are developed from my own photographs. Digging through my stash an image will catch me and become the visual inspiration for a piece. Other times I brainstorm photographically to try to capture a mood or idea I wish to portray. Working in mosaic with glass, ceramic and sometimes metal, I need to come up with a language of cuts that will both represent the linear and 3 dimensional aspects as well as the mood and energy of the work.

Tell us about your use of materials.

Stone, ceramic and glass are traditional mosaic materials and their colours are endless. However I am not very good at staying tied down to doing things only one way or the way everyone else does it. So, when I see an interesting colour or texture or shape I want to be able to use it in a mosaic. Sometimes a bolt reminds me of the stamen of a flower. Shingles look like shuttered windows, keys look like dancing families and springs…well…they abound in possibilities!

What excites you about fragmentation?

Fragmentation is the reality of mosaic art. By definition it is images made from small pieces of glass or ceramic tile called tesserae. A mosaic might seem like a piece shattered but is in fact art drawing from many fragments into a whole. The rhythms of the tesserae give continuity to a piece. By placing the tesserae in patterns within larger forms the object can appear calm or energetic, chaotic or ordered. The fragmentation carries the emotion of a work as much as the colour or line does.