Sheehan says that finding materials is a constant process. “I search in antique stores, thrift stores, dumps, people’s outgoing rubbish. It’s amazing what people throw away—like the glasses on the head. They were all scratched up but so simple and lovely. They’d obviously lasted someone a long time.” She used paper leftover from shredding combined with moss from her garden to create the nest. “When I find a piece, I don’t necessarily know how I’ll use it, but I know I’ll use it sometime. People throw out all kinds of things. I once found an old clock with a mahogany and brass case.”
Sheehan appreciates the opportunity these odds and ends give her to combine eras. “You get something from the turn of the century or from the forties. The story they end up telling is about something totally different. Old things seem to go together in a way that newer things don’t.”
Her interest in mixed media began with the rusty nails, seashells, or interesting rocks that made their way into her pockets as a child. She loved the work of Joseph Cornell and Louise Nevelson. “It made me wonder how it works. Cold adhering? Welding? Soldering? How do you make something heavy stay where you want it to be? Each piece is a problem you want to solve. It’s fun to solve those problems, one at a time, until you go that works—that’s kind of what I had in mind.”
Sheehan says she tends to visualize pieces at a particular scale—some want to be large, others want to be small. Then she has to try out different objects to see what will work and become part of the piece. “What is the main focus and what counterbalances that?” Sometimes things don’t work out as planned. “If I finish a piece and think eh, I’ll let it sit for a while and then I’ll end up cannibalizing it for something else. If it sits around too long, it’s fair game. If it doesn’t work, you pull it apart. You still have all those parts to use in something else. And you learn something with every piece.
When I moved the blog from its original site to this site, the comments didn't transfer. Here's what people responded to this post:
SUSAN WE 2/8/2019 02:35:52 pm
I loved Cilla's story about how she gathers stuff and puts them together and then reuses things if she does not like the first product. She has a great imagination for seeing many everyday objects (especially from people's trash) that put together will produce an imaginative statement which catches the on looker up into a new awareness of and issue or the shapes of ordinary things working together in completely creative and unexpected ways. Se has a great eye for seeing the stuff of everyday life put to entirely new uses. She makes the viewer laugh and delight and admire her things all at the same time.
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I'm Marcia Santore, an artist and writer. artYOP! is a blog about artists and their stories, including mine. The artYOP! blog is currently on hiatus.