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Murray Journal

Finding Light

Jul 06, 2016 08:20AM ● By Alisha Soeken

“Bend Before it Breaks,” a piece by local artist Cheree Garn —Beehive Photography and Video

By Alisha Soeken | [email protected]

The artist’s form takes shape of mother, man, genius, rookie, child or adult. Arts limits are of our making only and pull from heaven or hell what we chose, darkness or light. Artist Cheree Garn paints light.

Garn was born the youngest of five to Stephen and Linda Garn. Her childhood was full of love that infused in her a passion for art.

“My mom is very artistic. She exposed me to art at a very young age. I remember learning how to use oil pastels at the age of five, which is pretty neat. From that point on I was constantly coloring, drawing and painting.” Garn said.

Garn paints with oils and occasionally mixes her media adding charcoal and pastels. Her subject matter has evolved over the years but landscapes are reoccurring.

Hikmet Sidney Loe is a professor of art at Westminster College and appreciates those landscapes.

“Cheree’s paintings are beautifully evocative. Their colors draw you into a space you don’t want to leave. The emotional quality of her paintings provides a sense of wonder. Her landscapes resonate with me as a place uncharted.” Loe said. 

That place is what the artist or audience make it. And for many it’s a reprieve of daily pressure. Though the form of artist varies the theme of struggle is shared.

 “As an artist there are so many struggles. I think the obvious ones are time and money, as a single full time working mom there’s never enough.” Garn said.

 Yet Garn makes time. She paints one or two days a week, participates in the gallery strolls downtown and sells her art at the spring and fall shows at Poor Yorick Studios.

“You really have to make goals and force yourself. Do work, go to events, get involved and stay involved.” Garn said.  

And Garn minds her advice. As a single mother she finished her BFA with an emphasis in painting and drawing.

“I struggled for a lot of years to get through school. I sacrificed fun times and even time with my daughter so that she could see how important it is to get your education. I also want her to see me doing what I love.” Garn said.

Garns love of art not only brings joy, it inspires. Connor Wilde-Mathie is a figure painter, studio partner and close friend of Garn.

“Cheree made me fall in love with abstract art. She makes the most abstract landscapes tangible. Her art carries emotional weight and are works that start a conversation. She pushed me as an artist to realize that my own work carries conceptual weight even if there isn’t a figure as the subject matter.” Wilde-Mathie said.

Like Garn for Wilde-Mathie artist support and inspire one another. For Garn that figure was Vincent Van Gogh.

“Nothing can compare to his brushwork and movement in a painting. I’ve always been in love with his work but when I saw it in real life I was officially obsessed. It is so rich in texture you can almost feel it with your eyes. Every time I see any of his paintings they just make me want to weep and smile.” Garn said.

Emotion is in the very nature of art, and emotions like fear are its barriers.

“I’m not afraid to fail anymore. Once you let go of some of the fear you open yourself up to so much opportunity. I learned that in school. I’d start something and wouldn’t want to ruin what I had started and my professor would say, “Why are you scared of ruining it? You did it once you can do it again. Now add more paint, make more marks, put down more texture, do something no one else has.” That was a defining moment.” Garn said.

Fear and darkness in life are inevitable. But so is light, and art will find it. Lisa Schmidt a fan of Garn agrees.

“Her ethereal landscapes and style whisper light that seems to seep off the canvas evoking strength. It is almost as if she is able to give the horizon an emotional current that is both delicate and powerful that resonates within and helps us transcend this world while deepening our desire to cultivate beauty in our own lives.” said Schmidt.   λ