ARTIST Q & A | SHERI BAKES
BC artist Sheri Bakes reflects on her latest collection The Company of Stars, inspired by her dear friend’s six-month solo thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail and the photos she took along her journey.
Q: Your paintings were based on photographs from your friend Jennifer’s thru-hike for this body of work. Does working with someone else’s photographs rather than your own lead to any differences for you at any point in your creation process?
A: This is the first time that I can remember using someone else’s photos. When I photo-document for work, it’s a significant part of the process. Usually working from photos that aren’t mine just doesn’t work.
With Jennifer’s images, I had access to her daily experience and all of the context behind the images, which really helped. I’m also friends with her sister Emily, her Mom Nancy and her Dad, Peter, so I was able to share in their experience of sharing in Jennifer’s hike from home. I think having this shared experience made working from Jennifer’s images possible.
Q: These images are inspired by a physical journey. Can you describe the emotional journey that a painting takes you on from start to finish?
A: I suppose the emotional journey while painting is something (hopefully) felt and conveyed within the work.
Q: There are enduring features and qualities in your work – most notably the subject of nature and the mist-like, atmospheric stippling. What continues to draw you towards these aspects?
A: I’m really interested in how sensory stimulus can affect the brain, and mark making in terms of visual stimuli is a quiet, very gentle way to do that. On a microscopic level, life is revealed at a very interesting layer inside the over all picture. It feels somehow validating or life-affirming to attempt to reveal some aspect of that process within the layers of general sight.
Q: What led you to your colour choices for these works, and is there a special significance in the use of white in your paintings?
I just went by feel and how I wanted to feel while painting.
Q:What three words do you think best describe your work?
A: Solitary, vulnerable, alive.
Q: What has been the most significant influence in your artistic practice?
A: My Mom. Everything about my Mom.
Q: How has your work developed in the past few years, and how do you see it evolving in the future?
A: I think I just like painting and it’s a very special companion to share life with.