Lilac Breasted Roller by Sherrill Anne Gross

I am a cut paper artist. My work is made using only paper, glue, and patience.

Technically I create collages, but I don’t think collage is the right word to describe what I do. I prefer to say that I create cut paper illustrations.

Being a cut paper artist puts me in an awkward place with my contemporaries. This is both a blessing and a curse. A curse because it makes it difficult to categorize what I do and a blessing because the uncommon way I work with paper makes my art unique. I create works that are modern in subject, but traditional in format and medium.

"Darla" by Sherill Anne Gross; image courtesy the artist.
“Darla” by Sherill Anne Gross; image courtesy the artist.

While it may be true for most art, I find my artwork (especially) is appreciated more in person, when the audience can see the cutting details, and the diverse qualities of the paper. While I’m very careful scanning my works so I get good reproductions, the depth of the digital impression can not compare to the hand cut originals.

I’m currently re-evaluating what I want to do (when I grow up). I had originally wanted to be an illustrator and to work primarily on books. I attempted to get illustration jobs, but did not get much traction so that idea went on the back burner. I recently did a workshop with faculty and students in the MFA Illustration program at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and their energy has made me revisit my earlier aspirations.

One major concern I’m having is with the health of my hand. I’ve had constant hand pain for about 20 years. Doctors wrote me off and told me I was too young to have any real problems. My hand at times locks up, either into a fist or with all my fingers straight out. Five years ago I was in more pain than I could handle, so I pushed a doctor to do more. After tests, he recommended exploratory surgery and we found something. It turns out I have a genetic defect where I have a second thumb muscle in my right hand. This gives me the ability to tighten jars/screws/ bottles/etc with super human strength (in all seriousness, I am not allowed to close 2 liter bottles in my house). The first and second surgeries relieved most of my pain, but in the past few months the pain is starting to resurface, and I am uncertain how it will play out. I hope I do not need more surgery and that the pain is temporary – but we’ll see.

"Gouldian Finch" by Sherill Anne Gross; image courtesy the artist.
“Gouldian Finch” by Sherill Anne Gross; image courtesy the artist.

I will keep creating work until my hand no longer works, and I’m currently trying to finish new works for an upcoming show. My plan is for the show, “Bird Watching”, to be on exhibit at some point in 2015. “Bird Watching” will be a combination of fanciful photo-realistic cut paper birds and 1950’s/1960’s pinups (or ”byrds”). Both of these subjects make me happy when I start a new work. I’ve had so many back-to-back shows in the past that it’s very nice to be working without the stress of an imminent deadline looming over me. I have a handful of both themes already done – but I have many more to create before I am ready. Even though I am on my 8th bird I still get giddy when I finish a new one. This makes me laugh since I am slightly afraid of birds in the wild – I was pooped on when I was a little girl and have never quite gotten over it.

Sherill-Anne-GrossSherill Anne Gross was born and raised in central Florida and always had a flair for art and design. While the medium has changed throughout the years from crayons to computer and now to paper, the creativity has never waned. While in college at Florida State, Sherill focused on graphic design but found printmaking to be one of her favorite ways to create art while getting her hands dirty. This work with printmaking helped refine Sherill’s style. In 2000, she received a BFA in Studio Art. It took several years before her work began to resemble Sherill’s current style. The art she creates today is only made with paper and is frequently composed of thousands of small pieces layered onto each other. Sherill’s work has been featured in many group shows as well as several solo shows locally and nationally. Her artwork has also been featured in books and magazines.

The artist’s website: http://sagworks.com/art.html

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