Sandoval Signpost
An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988
  Featured Artist
 

Cheri Reckers

Fiber artist Cheri Reckers wearing Swallowtails & Coneflowers, organza jacket.

Black Eyed Susans, silk chiffon shawl

Lucky Ladies, silk shawl

Praying Mantis II, dyes on silk and linen

Beneficial Wasps, silk organza jacket

Signpost featured artist

Wearable art: the silk paintings of Cheri Reckers

~Oli Robbins

Some art asks that you gaze from a safe distance and restrain from touching, while other art prompts you to utilize multiple senses—to look but also touch, to wear and move around in. Cheri Reckers’ painted silk works fall into the latter category. Each of her pieces are original paintings that can also be worn, hung, framed, or even cozied up with (in the case of her pillows, at least). Says Reckers, “I’ve always loved painting, the brush touching paper, or in my case fabric. With my garments, the paintings become three-dimensional.”

Her (literally) dynamic paintings have been exhibited in New Mexico at the New Mexico Museum of Art and Santa Fe’s Center for Contemporary Art, and outside of the country in Tokyo and New Zealand at the “World of Wearable Art” show.

Cheri lives with her partner, sculptor Michael Ceschiat, in Jarales, outside of Belen. Despite the fact that Cheri and Michael think of New Mexico as their true home and where they’re “supposed to be,” a job opportunity will force the duo to relocate to Arizona. Says Cheri, “we chose New Mexico for the big skies, mountains, and for it being a place where people appreciate and support the arts.”

Even though Cheri will soon be leaving her beloved state, for now she’s enjoying her environment, especially the “critters” that she encounters daily while walking her dogs. Many of her paintings depict these insects, which she studies while gathering ideas about what she will work on later in the day. “It’s sort of like research for me,” she says. She’ll sometimes collect the recently deceased bugs in order to further observe them, or will just watch the lively ones in their natural setting. “My current silk paintings are inspired by patterns in nature. I have an irresistible attraction to colors, spots and stripes on flowers, bugs, and plants, and I’m fascinated by their life cycles and their role in the environment.”

Late this year, five of Cheri’s insect paintings will be featured in a Nature Anthology series entitled Nature Inspired: Animals Edition Vol. II. The publisher, Falling Leaves Press, is “inspired by nature and its ability to offer us powerful reflections on how to live simply and in harmony.” Visit fallingleavespress.com for more information.

Cheri grew up in Cincinnati and has been drawing and painting since she can remember. Her parents sent her to art classes in the first grade, after her teacher told them that she believed Cheri possessed a special talent. Her art studies continued through college at Columbus College of Art and Design. She majored in retail advertising and fashion design—and the knowledge she gained continues to be of service in her current pursuits. After college she landed a job at an Ohio crafter gallery, which happened to carry the work of a silk painter. That silk painter soon needed an assistant, and Cheri was recommended for the position.

She had previously been exposed to silk painting in college, when she took a weekend workshop to learn how to paint fabric for her senior design show, but being an artist’s assistant provided her with a sort of apprenticeship in silk painting—the medium which would soon become her own. “She was my first mentor, and I did everything with her. I helped her with painting, went to shows, ran errands, learned the whole business.” Cheri assisted her for two years before moving to New Mexico in 1993. Once here, she quickly went out on her own and found a market for her work. She and Michael lived in Albuquerque for their first few years in the state, but were more attracted to life outside of the city, soon settling into Bosque, just south of Belen. “We like rural living and having open space around us,” says Cheri.

Before painting a garment, Cheri designs the paper pattern and determines how much fabric she’ll need to paint. She hand-makes nearly all of her pieces (with the exception of some silk scarves), so much time is devoted to the strategic placement of designs and determining where sleeves and necklines need be. Says Cheri, “painting sort of follows the design of the garment.” She paints horizontally and has wood frames that she stretches her silk to. “I’ll draw very lightly on the silk with quilter’s markers that disappear with water. The painting process is a layering technique and I can’t erase the dyes once they’re on there.” Since silk painting isn’t very forgiving, Cheri develops a plan for her colors ahead of time. “But,” says Cheri, “sometimes happy accidents occur. And I just start with the lightest color first.”

Cheri has teamed up with Black’s Smuggler Winery in Bosque, where she offers a variety of workshops (blackssmugglerwinery.com). This month, she’s also teaching a silk painting workshop at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, TN, where her work will be on exhibit in Arrowmont’s Wolpert Gallery.

She was selected to paint Bandelier National Monument’s Centennial Parks Pass, after spending a day last summer silk painting en plein air at the Monument. Her work can be found in Santa Fe at Handwoven Originals and Marigold Arts, in Albuquerque at Weyrich Gallery, and in Belen at the Belen Art League Gallery. Cheri has shown in the Placitas Holiday Fine Arts and Crafts Sale, and is a member of Silk Painters International, where she attained the designation of “Master Silk Artist.” Her work was featured in Fiberarts Design Book and FiberARTS magazine.

Visit cherireckers.com for information on upcoming shows and workshops, or to book a private silk painting event with the artist.

 
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