Sherry Dooley, 50, is from Portland, Oregon in the USA. Sherry is a visual artist and had this to say about her chosen submission subject and why she was motivated to address cultural and racial stigma:
I’m submitting a new series I’m doing regarding “the Wall” Donald Trump keeps insisting he will build, in hopes to keep us “safe” from Mexicans. I don’t agree with it, I find it offensive to our neighbours, and racially motivated. Racial profiling at it’s finest. After his degrading comments regarding the Mexican people being criminals and rapists – his wall will only hold the US citizens hostage, while making our friends our enemies.
I’m a full time professional artist. After attending the Women’s March On Washington, I become inspired to not only paint “pretty” paintings – but to make a statement.
My theme is Cultural Stigma/Racism.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a mother, a sister, a daughter, and a woman. I’m a fifty-year-old artist and wanderer, with scars. Born and raised in Oregon, I tend to lean far left, if I must use a label. Recently moved back to Portland Oregon after five years in New Orleans.
What is your artistic/creative background?
As a child, my mother put me in various after-school creative functions. I’ve always loved to draw, but never mastered it, and it doesn’t really matter. I consider myself “self-taught” – with no fancy, over priced art degrees. I started painting in 1998. Found wood, and old house paint, anything I could find, I would use. I’ve continued to paint ever since. Ninety percent of the time my art has allowed me to be self-employed.
What motivated you to deal with your chosen submission subject?
I chose Cultural Stigma/Racism because it seems to be a topic/situation that can be erased, with just the right amount of effort. Preconceived notions about a certain population, I believe, stems for just not knowing, and maybe a refusal to know. But once you learn something, once you’re forced to see someone, something in a new light, you cannot un-see it. Un-know it. We all have to start somewhere. I did. Why can’t others?
What is your process when creating?
The process, where does the process truly begin? Usually an incident, a situation, which has stirred up my thoughts, and has bled into my emotions, then the process, has begun. Sometimes without me even realising it. The process has begun. Never just a thought…emotion is the fuel of the fire I need to create.
Who are you influenced by within your artistic discipline?
I believe the question should be…”Who and What am I influenced by…” When I first began a very primitive style of painting women, friends influenced me. Body shapes and hairstyles, pretty scenes, Goddesses and nature. It evolved from there. As cliché as it is, once I was introduced to Frida Kahlo’s work and life story, I drew inspiration from everything Frida. Not just her self-portraits, in fact very little of her creative ability moved me, it was more about her life and situations that would inspire a piece of me to be brave. Brave in the sense of being vulnerable and puking my sorrows onto the canvas or wood for the world to see. I’ve evolved over the last 19 years, and no longer sob into a piece of art. I can see passed myself and create a bigger image, which isn’t just my little world, but something others can relate to.
Who inspires you in general?
Injustice and women.
What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for…?
There are so many – but if I were to be passionate about each and every cause, I wouldn’t be able to get up in the morning. I don’t know why, but homelessness hits me hard. Not so much creatively, but more in an “Action Required” stance. So I feed the homeless when I can. I rally others to do the same. I’m moved and feel obligated to create pieces that are slick with emotion for women who have been sexually trafficked. I’ve been there…and I paint what I know and feel. My most recent cause is immigration. Just in the last couple of years, the word “illegal” has replaced human being. Dehumanising at the very least. Now we have a war against those that have less. Those that are searching for a better life. Those that do American’s dirty work and are vilified for it. Those that might have an accent. Those that might not be white enough. I’m getting all jazzed up as write this…it just pisses me off that in 2017, I’m having to experience and see first hand an earlier and uglier time in our country, today. RIGHT NOW? So, in honour of those that are being targeted and shit on by those that believe it’s okay to do so, I’m painting those women. I’m painting black women. Arab women. Asian women. Light-skinned women. All Women. All American women. Sorry, but American women are not all blondes with blue eyes. That is not the norm – and will never be.
What do the statements “art saves lives” and “art creates change” mean to you?
I read both statements at face value. Period.
Have your artistic and creative outlets saved your life in anyway and do you think your message within them could help create change in the world?
Yes. Art saved my life. Once I was able to escape the life of commercial sex trafficking and a nasty meth habit, I needed something, anything, to feel good. Painting felt right, it felt good. Stimulating that old brain chemistry with a new vice, art. When I sold my first piece, it was validating a wounded child, whom felt worthless. Yes, art saves lives…and can rebuild lives. Will my art ever make a change in the world? I think it has – as more people get to know me and what I create, they also get to know my past life. With that said, the stigma of a prostituted woman slowly shifts from what they had believed. It changes from judgement and idea of choice, to one of compassion and understanding. In my eyes that’s huge. Seeing “throw-away” women in a new light, shedding judgement, and opening the heart. Yep, that’s huge.
What are your present and future goals for your art?
I want to continue down my new path of making a statement for women and those that are oppressed in America. Stand up against division, and stand taller than any fucked up wall. Build it. It won’t stop people from connecting and loving/embracing each other.
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