I am a San Francisco based poet and artist. After earning my MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts, I spent 10 years writing, teaching writing, and working as both a book reviewer and a moderator for mother-daughter book clubs. My poems have been published in a number of literary journals and anthologies, including Hunger Mountain, Brevity, Poets Eleven, Coffee Poems from World Enough Writers, Stone Gathering and Rattle Magazine. My chapbook, 11,000 Cups Of Tea can be viewed at The Brooklyn Art Library’s Sketchbook Project: https://www.sketchbookproject.com/library/S212075

My collage making originally started as part of a poetry project; I was playing around with writing poems in a collaged format and thought it would be fun to try some visual collages that translated as poems to go with them—so, poems as collages and collages as poems. I had also recently become keeper of our old family photo albums and found myself pouring over photos of my grandparents and great grandparents, great aunts and uncles, cousins in various categories of removal and my parents in their youth, wondering about their hopes and dreams and all of the “what-ifs” and forks in the road not taken. With scissors and glue, a mishmash of found images from the public domain and commercial sources, my own photography and the old photos of my relatives, the collages started to tell an entertaining alternative version of my own family history. Instead of poems, they became small visual stories akin to flash fiction but in picture form, animating my ancestors in ways they might never have imagined but hopefully might have enjoyed at least half as much as I have. I’ve since started incorporating vintage portraits in the public domain, moving beyond my documented family portraits to a broader scope of reimagined lives. I’ve also taught myself to create digital collages using my iPad Pro.

Collage by Sharry Wright

What initially drew you to your medium/media of choice?

I inherited a stack of old family photo albums filled with images of great-great grandparents, great aunts and uncles, many long dead before I was born. I had so many questions about the lives these relatives led and couldn’t help making up (often a bit fantastical) narratives. At the same time, I had been experimenting with writing a series of collaged poems, many inspired by family history, and wanted to see if I could create images that felt like visual poems to go with them. It turned out to be great fun and very addictive. As soon as I finished one, I wanted to make another. And another. After a while, I realized the images had turned into a kind of visual flash fiction—short, short stories, which I’ve always loved. I began collecting vintage photos in the public domain, adding new faces and new stories. In the beginning, all my collages were analog—printed images, scissors and glue—but traveling the past few years, I’ve learned to work digitally on an iPad Pro, opening up many new possibilities for layering and blending.

What aspect of your art do you hope really comes across to your audience?

I hope that both a sense of humor and affection for the subjects of my little visual stories comes across and perhaps gives my audience a brief respite from the many troubles in our world and daily lives.

Collage by Sharry Wright

Who inspires you in your life, whether it be artistically or otherwise?

I am inspired daily by makers of all sorts—poets, bakers, musicians, painters, and more—especially those who obviously love what they do and create for the sheer delight of creating and sharing. It gives me hope in a world where value is too often sadly defined by fame and money. Making art of all kinds feels to me like the opposite of consumerism.

What keeps you going as an artist? Where do you find that creative drive?

I wouldn’t know who I was if I didn’t make art. The process nourishes, grounds and defines me. I consider it one of the necessities of staying emotionally alive and engaged.

Tell us about your primary goal for the future. Has this goal changed over time?

My goal is to continue making work that feeds, amuses, and delights me, to share it on Instagram and through my card sets in the hopes that it may do the same for other people.

Collage by Sharry Wright