Cheri Kopp

I was a creative child, making ornaments from pheasant feathers, using a toothpick to blend colors on paint-by-numbers, and making my own embellished clothing and outerwear in 4-H.

Creating a mosaic of broken mirror in 8th grade, I discovered that thickness and quality of the scrap glass determined its shape when broken with a hammer. Sailboat on Turbulent Seas was my first titled work using cast-off materials.

Detouring for a career in technology, business and education, I continued to develop fiber and craft skills and build on my self-taught knowledge of art. In 2009, I returned to my original path.

As I handle, organize and sort my stash of cast-off materials, I develop ideas for new works, transforming ordinary items into 3D assemblage, wall-hung works, faux and real quilts. I strive for visual interest, adding depth with ideological, intimate and ironic narratives.

Story-telling, the process of discovery, and my interest in using art to illustrate the waste in our society, drive me. I am passionate about my work and enjoy sharing the urge to create with others.

Why do I make art? Because I must. A curator once cautioned me about suggesting that my materials “speak to me” so my artist statement expresses that idea euphemistically. But in truth, the thousands of items, in hundreds of categories, that I inventory in my studio are my muse! They suggest ideas, direction and stories that I feel compelled to tell.

Why is art important? Art allow us to find commonalities across cultures while expressing individualism and appreciating differences. Art can make us happy, it can make us uncomfortable, in can make us think, it can be a balm to the soul and psyche. Without art, life would be bland, and two-dimensional, and dull, and grim. The Arts bring depth and color, mystery and understanding to our world.

Artist Statement: I make art from cast-off materials: trash; recyclable, found and salvaged items; even the remnants of my own life are accumulated, cleaned and inventoried. An intentional and organized collector, I use what our culture typically discards: fruit stickers, plastic bottle caps, foil yogurt lids, toilet paper tubes, left-over paint, floppy disks, and much more.

As I handle those materials, I am inspired to alter and transform them, finding their beauty, and then combining them to illustrate intimate, ironic and ideological stories. My 3D assemblages, mosaic-like artworks, faux and real quilts elevate the cast-off materials. I invite viewers to consider deeper themes, including how we treat the world around us.

In my life and in my practice, more is more. While I sometimes think of myself as a tidy hoarder, my process celebrates the ordinary and my aesthetic is about living lightly on the planet.