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Artist of the Week – Sheri L. Wright

January 5, 2012 by · No comments

An Interview with Poet and Photographer Sheri L. Wright by Jasmina Tacheva

Sheri L. Wright

Pushcart Prize nominee, Sheri L. Wright is the author of five books of poetry, including the most recent, The Slow Talk Of Stones. Her works of poetry appear in numerous journals including Out of Line, Chiron Review, Clark Street Review, Earth’s Daughters.

She also works as a free-lance editor, has taught poetry workshops and judged contests for a variety of writers organizations. Ms. Wright currently is the host of From The Inkwell, a literary radio show live-streaming at For more info on her work, please visit her website at

How did you first discover photography as an art form?

It was literally handed to me. A good friend gifted me with a digital camera, showed me the basics and by accident, I discovered the abstract. I became smitten. A new way of seeing opened up, changing my awareness in subtle and not so subtle ways.

How do you decide on locations and subjects for your shoots?

Typically, I wander alleys, junkyards, abandoned places, anywhere there is texture and design, things out of the ordinary. Places are like people and their experiences in that they are more interesting when they have lived a little, when their character frictions across their faces. It’s the difference between living in the sterility of a new house and the imperfections of an older one.

Sheri L. Right - Overlap
Photo: “Overlap” by Sheri Wright

What are your sources of inspiration? What moves you?

Rust and crust usually, anything that can be animated out of ordinary perception. It’s like looking for and finding secrets, stretching past the mundane. For me, this is a practice of, not only creativity, but a shift in how to see and relate to what surrounds me.

I noticed that a lot of your photographs depict the rust, corrosion and decay of the mechanical world we live in – effects of time that most people try to avert, and yet in your art, they seem to be as valuable as the patina of ancient coins. What is the story they tell?

Rust is great for creating patterns and texture in the process of decay. Anything can happen. There is always a story to tell in everything around us, but metal puts on a show, infuses the stage with props and music. It’s high drama. Rust also presents an opportunity for macro shots. I can spend a good deal of time photographing one rusted out car.

Sheri L. Right - Masked
Photo: “Masked” by Sheri Wright

Does the social critique of your art herald a positive change in our society or do you think the self-destruction of mankind is inevitable?

That’s quite a question. All I know is that art has changed me for the better. I have more of an understanding between the creative and destructive, that either is corruptive when out of balance. As far as our species demise – the outcome is up to all of us.

Emotions are said to be an important aspect of photography. How crucial is this element for you as a photographer?

Emotions are woven into the fabric, so it’s impossible for me to disregard their influence. Most of the time, I go by feel, how a subject affects me as well as the visual appeal of patterns, color and texture. For me, photography is often a way to express non-verbal language, when words simply clutter feelings.

Sheri L. Right - Pangea
Photo: “Pangea” by Sheri Wright

For whom do you think art is created? What is the duty of an artist or should an artist have a duty?

Who else will breath for us, but us? I think art begins with the artist. It’s how we cope, create and express our experiences. It is what we love. Yet, art can also be a means to encourage positive change. It can speak to others by saying they are not alone in their struggles or views. Art can share beauty and remind others to see it where they can.

Art can also be the observer of society. I think that’s one reason why artists are feared, other than we are always coloring outside the lines. What responsibility artists takes upon themselves, is up to them. But I do think it’s important that we support each other, give back something, not just as an artist, but as a human being. And since we are given a gift of art, why not let that art be part of our giving?

Sheri L. Right - Fire and Ice at War
Photo: “Fire and Ice at War” by Sheri Wright

You are also the author of five books of poetry. How did your relationship with writing start? What ignited your passion for poetry?

I’d always had a love for books, dabbled with writing as a child, wrote bad lyrics during my teens. I journaled for a few years as an adult, but it wasn’t until 2004, when I was introduced to free-verse, that I found a means of literary expression that allowed me to distill words to their essence and not worry over rhyme. School didn’t teach that we could write about the split-open underbelly of living. But poetry did encourage it, allowed a place for tough subject matter to be expressed with eloquence and clarity.

Your most recent book, The Slow Talk Of Stones, explores the lives of the exploited in Appalachia, focusing on the issue of Mountain Top Removal. Do you think it’s important for writers to be socially active?

Yes, I do. Writers have a means of reporting stories in the subtle pretext of entertainment. In other words, no one wants to hear someone ranting about injustice. However, if the situation is presented with artistry, the story becomes more palatable.

Sheri L. Right - Ringed
Photo: “Ringed” by Sheri Wright

Writers and poets throughout history, have gotten away with saying things about powerful people through clever phrasing. Why break tradition? We are story-tellers. We absorb our surroundings into our imagination like plants drawing water from soil. If someone contaminates the soil, then yes, we should speak.

Can you tell us about your near-future plans?

I have two new poetry manuscripts I’m shopping around and am working on a collection of photography combined with poetry, which I’m very excited about. This is new ground for me. The possibilities of matching words to images are wide open. You may not see me for some time. Please send food. Just slide a plate under the door, thank you very much.

Thank you!

Sheri L. Right - Vined and Lined
Photo: “Vined and Lined” by Sheri Wright

Sheri Wright: “Poetry was a voice that I didn’t know I had” – Katerina Stoykova-Klemer’s interview with poet Sheri Wright

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