Playing with Scissors
I’ve wandered the globe as a travel journalist for decades, often watching the world and its people from behind; whether in the hub of London, a backstreet in Havana, or alone from a window in a squat hotel room in Paris; whether with a 35 mm camera or an iPhone.
Feeling shipwrecked in 2020, I began ripping words from the heart of old magazines. My scissors were like me, rusty and dull. “Bird Girl” is a mixed media collage inspired by an earlier piece featuring an owl. I set the girl’s face and used ink sparingly for effect. She’s shown in the sea, about to spread her wings and take off. “Pelican” is also a mixed media collage, incorporating ink. While the scene has a simplistic mien I spent a lot of time building the world. The over-sized pelican is meant to show its prominence in a world of concrete, steel, and glass.
“Postcards from Home” and “Spaghetti and Marmalade” were both wild romps with very little forethought. They remind me of what one might see tacked up in a kindergarten classroom. I like that about them; they free me from ideas of what art should be.
I approached photography much the same way. I never considered myself a professional even though my images appeared on the covers of national magazines and newspapers. In recent months, I’ve begun looking inward, living more fully inside my own skin. I’m no longer too old or too slow. I move at my own pace, eschewing imperfections and embracing my authentic creative self.
Sherry Shahan lives in a laid-back beach town in California where she grows potatoes in the cardboard box that delivered a stereo. Her art has appeared in Rattle (cover), Josephine Quarterly (cover), Orion’s Belt (cover), Cleaver (featured artist), Harbor Review, december and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and taught a creative writing course for UCLA Extension for 10 years.