Who are you and what do you do?
I remember how odd it felt the first time I spoke out loud that I, Cheryl Brandon, was an Artist. I always knew it was so, because my mother had recognized this talent in me at a very young age and sent me to study at the Oklahoma Science and Art Foundation. In fact, it was this institute with its petrified mummies on display under large glass cubicles that inspired me to be a figurative Clay Artist. I work with clay. With a little pressure and control of this very earthy medium, I am able to speak without using words.
How did you get your start?
I went to college and took every available class in clay. Pottery and sculpture were my main focus. It was pretty easy to see I was on to something because I could see other students work and compare my work to theirs as well as to my professors. And so, the light went on and I fell in love with it. I started competing with my college professors in many craft shows and exhibitions at their suggestion. This put me in the art world and proved to me that I belonged; that I could succeed in the field. By far the most impressive push I got early on was from sweet loving family. My brother and sister, along with my mother, went in together and purchased my first kiln. This gesture still brings a tear to my eye. I have truly been blessed with great support.
What inspires you?
I think it comes down to nature, anything from the world of nature, including human nature, and the way people interact to both. The most interesting and inspirational aspects of human nature is the way individuals deal with internal and external realities and conditions. Such as personal conflicts with internal dialog (that little voice we often time listen to), and perspectives on sexuality, especially for me, that of being female. So first is people and their spirits. Second is any form of beauty in nature, whether it is the wind, the sky, the colors or the strange beauty of plants and animals. I really like to work with both to create feelings that are familiar, universal, and speak to everyone. This is best noted in my latest work with totems.
What do you like about AZ?
When I first moved to Arizona in 1996, I could not believe my eyes. The plants reminded me of something from a different planet, strange beauty that sometimes bite, but demands respect. And wow! The places you can go: to the mountains, ski slope, or the canyons, such diversity and no matter where you are in Arizona, the sun shines every day, even if it rains. It is really hard to be in a bad mood with all the sunshine. Happiness for me is to feel the sun on my face and know that it will be the same tomorrow.
The people of Arizona are a very mixed bag from all parts, so you don’t have any barriers to break through. What I mean is, people in Arizona are friendly, trusting and accepting of newcomers. This makes it easy to call Arizona home. Plus, Phoenix is a very metropolitan city, and has a healthy Art Community, which is very attractive to me. And let’s not stop there, so many more art communities with great appeal to tourists and artists like Carefree, Sedona, Tucson, Bisbee, Tubac, Jerome, and Prescott. Any artist would be so lucky to live, love, and make (or sell) art in Arizona.
Where can we see your work?
Presently, I am represented by Carsten’s Fine Art Gallery in Scottsdale. Or you can view my work on my website. In the past, I have shown in many galleries here in the valley, on Marshall Way, and Cave Creek as well as galleries in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Bernalillo, New Mexico. I also show in many group shows here in town such as The Shemer, The Herberger, the Alwun House, West Valley Museum, the Airport Museum, R. Pela Contemporary, Oblique Art, AZ Clay and wherever the “Calls to Artist” may lead me.
What would you like to accomplish before you die?
I have always wanted to have my own studio/gallery space so I would like to find a piece of property, in an art-savvy community, design and build my gallery. More than just a building, I would like this gallery to be inviting to everyone, not just artists and collectors. I believe that people need art and they want to live with art. But, more than sometimes, the art venues are somewhat intimidating. I would like to use a sense of humor and whimsy to reduce the intimidation, thus, bringing all types of people to the space. I want people to know what I know: that everything in our life is a symbol, a clue, a reminder of what we understand and what we don’t. These are the how’s and why’s of manifestation, the creation of Art. It is so simple, really. In art, look to the beauty for the truth and, to what hurts, for its beauty.
What is your mantra?
Thoughts become things. So be careful what you think. Choose the good ones.