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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Ritchie’s artwork looks beyond form of face

Ceramic artist Sheri Ritchie stands with finished and unfinished pieces of her work at Clay Connection, 714 E. Sprague Ave. (Jesse Tinsley)
Jennifer Larue

Sculptor, photographer and multimedia artist Sheri Ritchie is a bit of an alchemist – she creates tangible and thought-provoking things out of mud mixtures and fleeting thoughts.

Clay and simple images become gateways to the inner workings of the human spirit.

“I am interested in provoking thought between the inner essence and the outer self,” she said. “I usually avoid a clear identity in the form of a face which is where we look to read emotion. I hope that the ‘figure’s’ identity and emotions come from the whole.”

Ritchie’s hand-built and carved sculptures represent the feminine form with soft and exaggerated curves. When looking at it from a different angle, a thigh or derriere becomes a rock formation or a hillside. Her whimsical creations include wings, birds, body parts and figures that kneel, curl, lounge, reach and offer things like hearts and gemstones.

Ritchie was born in South Carolina. Her father was an executive and the family moved every couple of years. Drawing and writing poetry kept Ritchie grounded as she learned to adapt to change.

“I’d draw, carve wood and soap, build sand sculptures, write poems, paint, make journals of beautiful things or whatever happened to inspire me at the moment,” she said. “Even if no one ever saw it, the process of creating was, and is, enough for me.”

Raised with a strong sense of self and wonder, Ritchie embraced change and adventure. At 17, she traveled to the Middle East and stayed for two years. “I experienced amazing things and a culture that was vastly different from anything I knew. I learned to live without what a 17-year-old girl thinks she needs. It molded me into a different person who saw a bigger picture.”

The “bigger picture” is subtly represented in the artist’s work as she captures what lies beneath and within her subjects, including her photographs where a child’s face shows an old soul or the close-up of an item’s surface shows otherworldly highways.

Ritchie, 53, has traveled many highways. After spending many years in California and wearing many hats, including inventor, publisher, advertising salesperson, and artist, she landed in Spokane. She seems to have no problem moving about, adapting, learning and growing. Through change, her artistic nature has remained constant and she took classes as often as she could. Now she spends much of her time at the Clay Connection, 714 E. Sprague Ave., where she recently became director of marketing. There she has access to a network of instructors and peers that she considers a priceless asset to her continuing development as an artist.

Ritchie’s work is currently shown at the Bozzi Collection Gallery and the Clay Connection Gallery, and will be at Manic Moon and More Artist Emporium and Avenue West Gallery in the near future, a future that is sure to include change, adventure and her personal views of the bigger picture.