Sherry Searcy decided to move to our city after being captivated by downtown Wichita Falls. “I came to Wichita Falls to spend an afternoon with a friend, and I fell in love with downtown,” she said with a smile, “It is just charming. I like all the galleries and the studios, and the 8th Street Coffee House reminds me of the coffee shops I used to go to in the 70’s.”
Sherry moved here from Dallas last October, and she brought her amazing talent. She is a fiber artist, usually working on large swaths of white silk. “I paint with Procion and Tinfix dyes on white silk. Occasionally when I finish it up, I will also use fabric paint. Everything is heat set with an iron. The Procion dye you can actually mix with soda ash and salt.”
Each layer of dye sits for 24 hours before she washes it out and starts on the next layer. “It is very much like watercolor,” she explained. “Most watercolor techniques work on silk. For example, salt is used to make sunbursts.” Her finished product is alive with color in an abstract fashion.
She has also started a series of works inspired by cities. One of her pieces is representational of Wichita Falls with bright greens and reds that remind her of wildflowers she saw when she moved here. “Wichita Falls wildflowers are happy and inspirational,” Sherry said. “With the city series there is the fact that each city has its own energy, and there is something about it that stands out for me, and I can put it in a piece of art.”
Sherry used to paint with oils, and her usual subjects were landscapes. But an abstract nonrepresentational artist with whom Sherry took a workshop brought out her desire to concentrate on abstracts. “Maxine Masterfield was not a fiber artist. Her art was nature based, but very abstract,” she said. “She coined the term abstract naturalism. That is when I stopped doing landscapes.”
“I started to do fiber art in 1985 when I met a French artist that taught me how to do it and let me use her products. Her name was Simone Dumant, and the technique was guttaserti. It is basically a resist that you paint in lines to keep your dye from spreading,” she said.
Sherry continued to take workshops, including one with artist Anna Lisa Hedstrom. It was a shibouri workshop, which is a Japanese technique to dye fabric, and that is where tie dying came from. Sherry also has taught for 3 years for Educational Textile Arts in Dallas, Washington D.C., New York, Irvine and Anaheim, California.
Her future plans are to become more involved in the community using her art work and to continue to make artwork to sell. She is also planning to start teaching again, and is looking forward to a solo show at the Kemp Center for the Arts next year.
“I love that there are such active art galleries here,” she stressed, “I just love it.”
-Cindy Kahler Thomas