Moscow artist Gerri Sayler does what school children only can dream of — she uses ordinary materials like pipe cleaners and hot glue to create massive art installations.While the result is playful, it’s anything but childish. For the past decade, Sayler has expressed her perspective on life — past, present and future — in major art museums in Seattle, Boise, Missoula and throughout the region with installation names like “Ad Infinitum,” “Miasma” and “Whoosh.”
For the first time, her work will be shown in Moscow in a solo exhibit, when Sayler opens “Dark Matter” Friday. Here’s more to know about her work:
Artistic medium: As an installation artist, Sayler creates sculpture with fibers. In the past, she has used things like hot glue, pipe cleaners, rope and twine, but her current exhibit is created entirely with black mesh. “Anything worth doing, is worth
overdoing,” she said with a laugh. “That’s my theory with fiber.”
Creative process: Sayler purchases black mesh — yes, the same stuff on your window screen — by the roll at the hardware store and cuts it into different sizes. Then she alters the material — folding, unraveling, curling, wrapping, — to create objects with varying shapes and textures. When she begins work, she doesn’t always know what she’s doing or why — “I just do it,” Sayler said. “I just show up at my studio and do it.” And in the process, the material takes on shape and meaning.
Education: Sayler received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Idaho, but the way she uses material comes from her own creativity, curiosity and sense of self. “I learned how to do that,” she said, pointing to one of her pieces. “No one taught me how to do that.”
Past career experience: Sayler has never settled down into any single career. She has worked as a journalist, has a pilot’s license, writes poetry and is currently teaching a site-specific installation art class at UI. For now, her focus is on art. “This part of my life is about making art and how I am changed in the process,” Sayler said.
Artist residency: The exhibit is the result of a nine month artist residency granted to Sayler by the Prichard Art Gallery. It began this past January and provided Sayler both time and space to create a body of work. “It is the gift of a lifetime,” Sayler said. It has been a time of reflection and safety in an otherwise chaotic world. “The things that seem to be important have fallen away, and making art seems like a healthy response to re-making the world in a beautiful way,” Sayler said.
On maintaining a sketchbook: Sayler admitted she has never been good about keeping a sketchbook — which has been a source of shame since that’s what “good artists do.” But over the past nine months, she realized her sketching took the form of countless tiny studies in mesh. These “sketches” form the backbone of her creative process and will be displayed in the exhibit. “My favorite question in the whole world is, ‘What if?’ ” Sayler said.
On her upcoming exhibit: Despite the ominous name, “Dark Matter” is about play and whimsy, Sayler said. “It comes from every part of my soul, my memories, my experience, my passion.”
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: “Dark Matter,” exhibit by Gerri Sayler
WHEN: Opening reception 5 to 7 p.m. Friday. Gallery talk 2 p.m. Saturday. Exhibit hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday; through Dec. 23
WHERE: Prichard Gallery, 414 S. Main St., Moscow