Interview with Cheryl Polcaro
Cheryl Polcaro is best known for her mixed media work which incorporates layers of photo transfer and acrylic paint on canvas. Her work depicts imagery that seems to come straight from a contemporary version of a Grimm’s fairy tale and balances touches of beauty, whimsy, and darkness. A Boston area artist whose work has been shown nationwide, she graduated with a BFA from Montserrat College of Art in 1999 and is currently represented by Galatea Fine Art in Boston. She resides in Billerica, MA with her husband, 2 dogs, and 2 cats.
Could you please introduce yourself and tell us how you started in the arts? and your first experience in art making?
My name is Cheryl Polcaro. I am an artist in the Boston area and I am currently represented by Galatea Gallery in Boston. My work is a combination of photo transfer, acrylic paint, and other various media on canvas. I graduated from Montserrat College of Art in 1999 with my BFA and currently work from my home studio in Billerica, MA. I honestly cannot remember a time when I was not creating art in some way. My first memory of making art was sitting in front of the TV sketching Saturday morning cartoons, but my parents have photos of me making art from long before that. When I was in middle school, my parents put in me in professional art classes and from there I went to art school. Art has always been a part of my life.
How would you describe yourself and your artwork?
I suppose it is always difficult to describe oneself but I will do my best.I am a true empath and I feel very strongly about treating others with love and kindness. I am passionate about human rights, animal welfare, and the environment. My art truly takes me away from all of the weights of the real world and I find myself in a truly "other" space. I was raised in an environment where I was forced to be independent at a young age and lost myself in books, with a particular love for fairy tales. I believe my work stems from this place where my inner child is still expressing some distress but also seeking comfort and enjoying the space I have created for her.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
My ideas come to me as images and I will be honest in saying I have no idea where they come from. I suppose they come from my subconscious but I do not sit down and think, "what would I like to paint today?". My images come to me when I am doing other things and if they are strong ideas I quickly do a sketch or make a note of the idea before I lose it. I do find children's stories inspiring such as the original Grimm's fairy tales, the writing of Hans Christian Andersen, and other children's classics. I am also inspired by my lovely nieces Chloe and Lyra who are very tolerant models for much of my work.
What emotions do you hope the viewers experience when looking at your art?
I do not seek to provoke a specific emotion from the viewer but any emotional response at all brings me great joy. My work is cathartic for me, that is why I make my work. When others connect to my work and have an emotional response I find it incredibly humbling.
When do you know that an artwork is finished?
Any artist will likely tell you that this is difficult and I am no different. I let the work speak to me and I do my best to listen. It is very rare that the exact idea I had in my head is the exact result that ends up on the finished canvas. There are times when there is beauty that is revealed while making a piece and I stop before I had planned to. There are other times I have ignored that voice and overworked a piece and greatly regretted it. I think as an artist you need to be open and flexible to stopping before or perhaps after you initially planned.
What has been the most exciting moment in your art career so far?
I believe my most exciting moment as an artist was the first time I was accepted into a large and very prestigious show locally in Massachusetts. The Danforth Art Museum in Framingham, MA had an annual show and being accepted into this show was truly an honor. All of my friends and colleagues would apply every year. The first year I submitted a piece I was accepted into the show. The opening reception was a grand gala and I will never forget walking into this exhibit all dressed up and going among the many rooms of the show to find my piece. The idea that my piece was hung among such distinguished and talented artists was just amazing to me. It turns out that I made it into this same show the next year as well before the museum temporarily closed and moved it's location. But that moment was very precious to me. I think it inspired me to push forward in my career.
How long does it take to produce one work?
Every piece is completely different. My work does need to be done in stages due to my photo transfer technique which includes many layers of wet media that need to dry between each stage. I can produce a very small piece within 24 hours. Currently I am working larger and I would say that I average anywhere from 1 week to a month to create one large piece. Of course there is also the odd piece that I decide I hate and it goes to sit in a corner for a year only to be brought out and finished quite some time later.
What exciting projects are you working on right now? Can you share some of the future plans for your artworks?
My art is on hold at the moment as my husband and I are building a new studio space on the second floor of my home. In May, we will be traveling to Norway and Denmark and I feel that this trip will greatly influence my future work. After all, Hans Christian Andersen once resided in Copenhagen and Scandinavia in general gave birth to some of the worlds best fairy tales. I also have upcoming features with Boston Voyager magazine as well as Creativpaper online within the month.
Do you have any upcoming events or exhibitions we should know about?
My piece "Journeys End" is currently on display in the exhibit "Members Juried 2" at The Concord Art Association through March 22nd. I will also be having a solo show at Galatea Fine Art in Boston in July 2019.
Where do you see your art going in five years?
As long as I am still creating and growing as an artist I will be happy. I have no interest in becoming rich or famous. I simply want to create good work and be respected among my peers and artists I admire. I want people to look at my work and feel something, anything. So, I hope in 5 years I am able to continue to do just that.
Facebook: Cheryl Polcaro Fine Art