Cheryl Tall: “Dramatis Personae”


March 12, 2023

On View Through:

April 30, 2023

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Continuing on the theme of “Imagination” at Sparks Gallery, Artist Cheryl Tall uses narrative figurative sculpture and paintings to create a whimsical, yet sentimental commentary on the experience of being human in the modern age.

The title of the exhibition, Dramatis Personae, is the Latin term for “cast of characters” in theater, art, and literature.  It refers to the colorful troupe of sculptural characters portrayed in Tall’s art. In the style of “magic realism”, her work uses color and texture to create a surrealistic wonderland that touches on our search for meaning, connection and place. 

Ranging in size from 7 inches to 7 feet, Tall’s works are constructed from a variety of mediums, primarily clay, tile, and paint. By using finger marks in the clay or paint, and layers upon layers of glaze, paint, paper, or found materials, she creates a richly complex surface on the pieces that echo the appearance of primeval artifacts or folk items. 

The artist’s inspiration from both contemporary and ancient art is evident in her works; myths and dream imagery are a recurring theme. Her subject matter often includes architectural and figurative elements. Many of her paintings depict full scenes of activity, with a cast of several characters and multiple interactions happening at once. The way that individuals – neighbors, lovers, extended families, and community members – interrelate with each other is a visual and thematic focus in her works. These crucial social bonds, which drive everyday life, are emphasized and celebrated.

Cheryl Tall studied art at the University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida where she received her BFA and at the University of Miami, Miami, Florida she received her MFA in 1995. Her present studio in Southern California, where she creates her large-scale sculpture and paintings and teaches art classes. Tall’s primary medium is clay, coil built into large figurative sculptures and wall pieces. She also works with mixed media, oil and acrylic painting, and printmaking.

Tall’s work focuses on the relationships between people and their surroundings, especially their homes or workplaces. Her subject matter often includes architectural and figurative elements. Influences include Surrealism, Expressionism, Pop Art, Lowbrow and Funk Art, Romanesque Medieval art, folk art, mythology and Primitive Art. Influential artists include Robert Arneson, Shepard Farrey, Andy Goldsworthy, Viola Frey, Adrian Arleo, Paul Klee, Giorgio De Chirico, Oskar Kokoschka and Giselbertus.

Tall’s works will be on view at Sparks Gallery from March 12 – April 30, 2023  with an opening reception on Sunday, March 12, 2023 from 5-8pm.

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