Susan McSherry likes to stay busy. To say the least.
Her Etsy shop, artandartifacts, is a treasure trove of gorgeous, upcycled, practical art objects. She creates these works, and the many others displayed on her blog and flickr site, in her "spare time."
“I split my residence between southern Illinois and northwest Arkansas,” Susan says. “In late 1999, I purchased property in Newton County, Arkansas, to explore my long-time dream of developing a green, vernacular, ecologically sensitive, historically accurate vacation rental business in an awesome remote spot. A variety of factors conspired to interrupt that process, but it finally got off the ground in 2005. (This stuff isn't as easy as it looks.) The result was Buffalo River Retreat—a totally different piece of property in a more accessible area.”
Susan found that she had to spend a lot of time waiting—for visitors to show up, for calls to be returned, and so on.
“I started piddling around with making things out of all the extra junk I had lying around,” she says. “Art and Artifacts was born. Stuff made from other stuff. Glass stuff. Recycled stuff. This was a good way to clean out the barn!”
In fact, the barn was the jumping-off place for all this activity.
“It began innocently enough,” Susan says, “decorating my barn with bottle caps and all manner of metal debris; decorating my yard with bowling balls. As people noticed my choice of media, they began making donations. People began to just stop by and drop off bowling balls, bags of blue bottles, rusty metal thingamados. You name it.”
"Art and Artifacts has been so totally encompassing,” she says, “it has now absorbed most of my time. The vacation rental is now secondary.”
Susan’s sense of humor is as captivating as her art.
“I have always been frugal and admired the vernacular art of the rural folks,” she says. “I like to think I have generated my own genre of Naive Outsider Tramp/Trash art (N.O.T. art). As a matter of fact, when I took some of my things to a local small-town gallery, that is exactly what they said: ‘That's N.O.T. art!’ Wow. I was already famous. Whadda ya know.”
Despite her humor and modesty about it, Susan’s work is being more and more widely recognized. She just won first place in Amateur Fine Craft at Herrinfesta Italiana for Chaos Theory. (“No,” she says, “it’s not my autobiography.”) She also just sold her first 3D assemblage/sculpture, Flower Hat Lady.
Susan’s haiku about her approach to art:
Fine. Fun. Funky. Functional.
It's what I do.
Susan is an active member of AREtsy, the Arkansas Etsy street team. You can see more of her work on her web site and her flickr site, and you can follow her art adventures on her blog.