The egg can symbolize many things, including birth and new beginnings, fragility and strength.
As a child, Sherry Wilson was enthralled by eggs. Her uncle had a book of birds’ eggs, and she wore out the pages studying the different sizes, colors and textures. In the spring, she would gingerly collect the blue pieces of robin’s eggs that littered the yard and put them in piles. Now, she incorporates them into her art, creating sculptures and three-dimensional paintings.
“I love the shape of eggs. For me eggshells can represent people with something to say. The inside of an egg is a perfect symbolic place for emotions that are not generally spoken aloud,” she said. “The outside of the shell is like the spoken word, a place to display what you want the world to see. I also just think eggs are beautiful. An eggshell can be a wondrous little work of art.”
Wilson was born in California and moved to the Spokane area when she was 2. She graduated from Ferris High School and then went back to California to study child and human development. She married in lieu of getting a college degree and moved back to Spokane and then Montana where her husband found employment. All the while, Wilson’s fascination with the egg grew.
When her oldest son Dominick was born, she began experimenting with eggshells, using pieces as a sculpting medium. Dominick is now 11, and he has a 4-year-old brother named Devin. Wilson’s days were filled with molding and shaping her children and eggs. About two years ago her brother, also an artist, told her to start taking her art more seriously.
“One of my greatest challenges in working with eggs has been the fact that they are so fragile,” she explained. “Over the last two years I have worked hard to develop a technique that gives the eggs a bit more durability.” “I usually have a shape in mind, but I’m sometimes surprised by the way they turn out. I love experimenting with different color combinations and materials that can be mixed into my egg art.”
She hand-paints the shells and attaches them to pressed board or uniquely shaped pieces of wood that have been prepared with layers of paint, colorful environments for the distinctive medium. The addition of resin gives the shells strength.
Looking at her work, a viewer cannot help but want to look closer at the delicate shells swimming, almost growing in their surroundings.
Titles of her work include “Liquid Mine Field,” “Hive,” “Water in a Fleck of Cold,” and “Clap If You Believe in Fairies.” The latter includes the words “I occupy the space my eyes never see. Sanity, sanity, sanity is fleeting. I am about to go out.” Wilson explained it as a “mental light.” “We need the support of others so that we don’t ‘go out’ mentally,” she said.
Another piece called “Can I Know You” is a rope ladder with eggs climbing up. The eggs have words painted inside representing the fear of opening up to others. “I want to make beautiful art that inspires the imagination. If some of my emotions, thoughts or opinions fall into my artwork it’s all right with me. My hope is that some people will be able to identify with what I am trying to express through my art,” Wilson said.
Wilson moved to Spokane Valley recently, still a mother, still an artist, and still collecting eggs.