Sherri Brown: Pastels, bones and altars

Arts Profile

Posted: Thursday, November 09, 2000

Color junkie: Sherri Brown works mostly with pastels. Her art is currently on display at the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council Gallery, part of a joint show with artist Bridget Milligan.

She loves pastels because she can get vivid, mouth-watering colors, she said.

"I'm kind of a color junkie, and you can get these supersaturated colors."

Bone portraits: Bones are the subject of several of her pastel paintings.

"I love bones," she said. "I'm fascinated by how responsive they are to changes and different pulls of the muscle, and how dynamic they are."

She especially loves the way bones look and the way a drawing of a white bone can include a surprising amount of color.

"You can draw every imaginable color and still get white. Your mind is telling you that it's a bone, and it's white."

She referred to her renderings of a wolf skull and a dolphin skull as portraits.

"After you sit with it and observe, I feel like I'm with a being. It's like having someone sit for you," she said. "There's nothing macabre about it. I think they're lovely. You recognize our similarities. You start looking at how similar one skeleton is to another animal it's pretty neat."

Southwest to Southeast: Brown grew up in Santa Fe, N.M., and studied anthropology at the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque. She switched majors and earned her degree in physical therapy. She later earned a master's degree in counseling.

She moved to Juneau four years ago and works as a physical therapist with children 1 to 3 years old with the REACH infant learning program. She also works with the Juneau School District in area schools.

Altars: Brown also constructs small altars. Her "Altar to Bones," on display at the arts council gallery, is built from an old wooden tool box, painted and upended. It stands about 14 inches high, and the doors open to reveal an assortment of found objects including recycled toys, a hospital bone scan and a small sketch by Brown.

Brown said while she worked on her project, her 10-year-old son made a shrine to books, honoring his love for reading.

Bones for inspiration: Her brotherinlaw in Fairbanks recently sent her a box of skulls, including a snowshoe hare and a black-tailed deer, and she plans to use them in new projects.

"I'm so excited. The snowshoe hare is exquisite."

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