Sheryl Oppenheim is an Orlando born artist, now residing in Brookyln. Escaping the monotony of control, of boundaries and of repetition, her work is inspired by the indirect processes of marbling and the idea of capturing the fluidity of an image in motion – the result is beautiful, eluding to the notion that time has stopped.
Printed by hand, her work is also collected in books (Black Hours) and zines (Alba Amicorum), where her marbled masterpieces are translated from paintings to silk screen print ‘corrupting the original drawings into a new body of work’.
We spoke to Sheryl about her personal processes, her influences and the immortality and physicality of print.
Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from, what’s your background?
I grew up in Orlando, Florida, and moved away to attend Brandeis University outside of Boston when I was 18. I decided to study art, without much idea of what it would mean to be an artist or how that would play out.
Where do you draw your inspiration from / what influences you?
I am most influenced by the people places, and things I interact with and spend time around. Whenever people ask what my paintings are about, I think that they’re not about anything, or at least not about any one thing. There’s no motive to make a clearly articulated thought or idea into a painting.
Right now my paintings have 32 years of thinking and looking in them, and in ten years I would like to make paintings with 42 years in them. I think a lot about the time encoded in objects, not just my own paintings.
I am inspired anytime someone makes something their own and makes it feel surprising and convincing. I couldn’t name just one when a hundred other people would be just as relevant…you could look at my instagram or the shows I curate to get an idea of whose art I’ve been looking at. Roberto Bolano and Lil Wayne both have been on my mind a lot in my studio lately. I also really like this French artist Safia Bahmed Schwartz who makes beautiful line drawings, graphic in every sense of the word.
What are the processes behind your work – how do you get the marbling effect?
I like marbling because it’s an indirect process. You have the image you’ve made on the water, sort of like a monotype, and then you are pulling the print when you lay the paper down to transfer the image. A lot of times the image is in motion to some degree until the second the print is pulled, and I like the quality of time moving and stopping in the images.
Can you tell us a little about your latest Silk Screen project?
Kayrock invited me to do something for their Fresh Prints series, and it gave me the impetus to play around on photoshop with my work, something I probably would not have bothered to do anytime soon of my own volition.
It feels very similar to making my paintings, except the experience of looking and responding is sped up. The speed with which things can be changed and manipulated is disorienting, and it’s challenging not to get caught up in the idea of making 20 variations of something and how do you figure out if one is better than another?
Here at people of print, we believe print isn’t dead. What do you think? How important do you think it is for art to be tangible in a digital age?
I think it’s as important as it has ever been.
It’s cool to see a digital image of an old church, for example, but the experience of standing in front of or inside that church – the smell, the relation of the size of your body to the architecture, the color, the light, the sound – is different and, in my opinion, superior.
Art in its physical form also has experiential qualities that don’t translate into digital images. There’s plenty of interesting work that is native to the internet/computers, but the physical qualities of art are also important. The paper one chooses to print or paint on, for example, totally changes the resulting work that is done on top of it.I also think that the longevity of digital work is overestimated…it’s appealing to me that paintings/prints require physical effort to be created and destroyed.