Sheryl Zacharia was living in Greenwich Village in New York City when a good friend suggested she take a clay class to help her satisfy a desire to get back into expressing herself through the visual arts.
For a decade, she studied the art of ceramics at Greenwich House Pottery. “I became addicted to clay,” says Zacharia, a Santa Fe resident for the past three years who opens her show of sculptural pieces, “The Enduring Vessel,” at Tansey Contemporary on August 10.
“Vessels were the forms I began with when I started working with clay,” she explains. “They’ve also been an important form through the ages. My show pays homage to this form.”
While she learned the basics of working with clay at Greenwich House Pottery, other schools in the New York area and workshops in the East Coast, Zacharia has developed many of her own ceramic techniques.
During coiling, for example, Zacharia likes to leave the finger marks she’s made with her hands while building the form. She often applies a black wash over these marks to accentuate them and create a specific surface that enhances the piece’s shape.
Preliminary sketches of new pieces are often drawn on a phone, iPad or piece of paper. “The form has to stand on its own,” she adds. “It has to have integrity and interest.”
An intense interest in color, which harkens back to her college days, is an exciting part of Zacharia’s creative process. An artist who was born and raised in the New York area, she majored in painting at Southhampton College.
After she realized in her early 20s that her heart was really into singing, she abandoned the idea of a career as a visual artist and worked as a singer/songwriter. Zacharia performed in the New York City club circuit for more than 10 years.
When dealing with the ups and downs of the music industry became unsatisfying, she turned her attention back to the visual arts. Happy in her path as a ceramicist, she looks forward to many fulfilling years working with clay.
Zacharia’s award-winning work, which has been supported by several grants, is in corporate, museum and private collections.