“Spring Doe and Fawn” (top) and a detail from “Breasted Buddha” (below), beads and papier-mâché by Sherry Markovitz. - Photo by Jim Craven

All things bright and beautiful

There's more to the beaded animal heads and doll figures created by Sherry Markovitz than meets the eye. "You have to look beyond the surface in this show," says Michael Crane, director of the Schneider Museum of Art. "Sherry has covered models with beads, lace and buttons, things that you would find in a sewing box," he says. "But her art goes deeper."

Markovitz's art overtakes its craft form to explore life experiences such as memories, childhood, loss and journeys, Crane says. Clues to Markovitz's subjects can be found in the titles and written statements that accompany her pieces.

An exhibit of Markovitz's beaded assemblages, paintings and drawings will be displayed through Dec. 13 at the Schneider Museum of Art on the Southern Oregon University campus, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland. The artwork is a retrospective collection that spans 1979 through 2006.

"Sherry Markovitz: Shimmer Paintings and Sculptures" was curated by the Museum of Art at Washington State University in Pullman. The exhibit is accompanied by a 100-page publication that includes an interview with the artist and essays by independent curator Josine Ianco Starrels and WSU Museum of Art curator Keith Wells.

Markovitz and Starrels will discuss certain aspects of the exhibit at 3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2, at the museum. A reception for the artist will follow from 5 to 7 p.m.

Starrels, who is based in the Rogue Valley, wrote in her essay that she first encountered Markovitz's animal sculptures in the 1980s and that her attraction to Markovitz's work stemmed from her appreciation of artists who make art that lies outside the boundaries of the mainstream.

She wrote that part of the artwork's intrinsic appeal came from Markovitz's use of nontraditional materials.

For some, "beaded needlework will always belong on evening purses, jewelry or tribal and ethnic garments, not on art."

"Avante-garde artists, by definition, depart from what already exists and thereby change the way we perceive things," Starrels writes.

Markovitz received her master's of fine art from the University of Washington in Seattle. Her work can be found in many collections, including the Seattle Art Museum, the American Craft Museum in New York City and the Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, N.C.

According to an article by art critic Sheila Farr of the Seattle Times, Markovitz's interest in beadwork came from a desire to confront stereotypes of "women's work" and celebrate the many traditions of beading in cultures all over the world.

When Markovitz was in graduate school, minimalism and abstract art were the ruling forces of the art world, Farr states. But Markovitz wasn't influenced by it. For her palette, she scoured flea markets and thrift stores, amassing vintage froufrous, bits of lace, antique dolls, dresses and loads of small shiny objects.

Hours at the Schneider Museum are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays; and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. Admission is a suggested donation of $3.

See sou.edu/sma or call 552-6245 for more information.

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