Cheryl Warrick thinks of herself as an abstract painter. “I always think there should be a time lapse camera in front [of my] paintings,” she said in a 2001 interview, “because they pass through various stages of fields, washes and places that are reminiscent of pure abstraction. Painting is journeying, really. It is building and moving forward.”
In a recent conversation Warrick noted that her early paintings referenced quilt making because she had been fascinated by the work of the women of Gees Bend in the 1980’s, before they became so well known. She began making quilts with her young daughter, and the decorative elements in her work seem to be influenced by this craft.
Using elements of landscape, leaves, clouds, the outline of a boat, and various markings that are almost universally recognizable, Warrick creates images that invite viewers to make their own connections to her art. In Peace Makes Plenty the white shape between areas of blue on a square of paper attached to the larger sheet by chine collé, can be read as either a waterway or a road surrounded by trees. While the outline of a boat embedded in the flat orange space below alludes to water, the white triangle might also be a road. This path between the trees is white with blue markings which may be a reflection of the cloudy sky. The artist notes that many elements of her work are purposefully ambiguous.
While at Chelsea College, Wolf studied great master paintings in Europe’s museums. This created a real, immediate appreciation of the old masters that was difficult to get from books, slide lectures and classroom instruction. About her experience she wrote, “Art history started to make sense to me in a way that it had not in art school. Seeing and doing art has always communicated more to me than names and dates in an art history class.”
Another aspect of Warrick’s work is the juxtaposition of high art and low art. Note the flowers in the print. Warrick creates templates from wallpaper and “fun things I find….What I do with paint is to create the emotional space between the elements, landscape or the symbols. They are really emotional spaces and qualities as we journey to wisdom.”
Warrick was born in St. Albans, New York in 1956. She holds an AD from Rhode Island Community College in nursing (1977), a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art (1988), and an M.Ed in Creative Arts in Learning from Lesley College (1997). She has taught painting at numerous venues in the Boston area and was a visiting artist at Georgia State University. Her awards include The Ballenglen Fellowship and the New England Foundation for the Arts, New Genres.
Warrick is represented by the NAGA Gallery in Boston and Dolan//Maxwell in Philadelphia. Among the many institutions that include her work in their collections are the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, Roxbury, MA, Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art, and University of Chicago.
by Diane Stupay
PEACE MAKES PLENTY, The Print Club of Cleveland Publication No. 86, 2008. Color etching, soft ground, white ground, drypoint, and chine collé on Hahnemuhle Copperplate paper. Printed by Catherine Kernan at Mixit Print Studio, Sommerville, MA.