by NancyLee Honey Marsh Photography by Christian Lee
“No one in my family was artistic,” declared the Ohio born, Carnegie Mellon University B.F.A. graduate. “It was truly strange how it all started,” reflected the petite, energetic sculptor. “I suffered with terrible nightmares when I was only 3 years old. Very concerned, my mother found a psychiatrist who gave me crayons to draw my dreams. The pictures were very dark, but with help, moved to a lighter side. The psychiatrist told my parents for a three-year-old, my drawings were unbelievable.” From that point forward her parents championed her creativity, which moved into the realm of sculpturing during her senior year in high school. “I walked into a ceramic studio, and my heart never left. I started to sculpture in earnest when I was 21, and it remains my first love.”
After her college gradation she married, had two children and taught drawing, painting and sculpturing in Pittsburgh for 17 years. “I always encouraged my students to stretch their imagination,” said Sheri, who pursued a side career in pottery, sculpture, architectural ceramics and jewelry. Her inventiveness never tires, and as we sat chatting in her cheerful home reflecting the eclectic nature of her creations, she glanced around. “I never know where the ideas originate. They just jump into my head,” declared Sheri, who creates series of works, such as masks, musical instruments, kimonos and faux tables.
Resting peacefully in her home are many of her unique mix of sculptures. One she designated “Serenity,” and another five-and-one-half foot couple, appropriately named “Whither Thou Goest,” was the amazing result of Sheri’s visit to an Ohio Sewer Pipe Factory. “I covered clay extracted from the earth with rags and plastic bags to soften it, in order to mold it into shape,” said Sheri, who continues teaching and offering workshops. “It’s just one more way artisans handcraft unique pieces from materials we may never envision.”
How do all these amazing sculptures come into fruition? “Ideas are everywhere, we only need to notice them,” Sheri emphasized. When you think about it, almost everything we see or pick up is artist created.” Sheri’s “notice ability” has won her multiple awards, and her creations are exhibited in museums, private and corporate collections, as well as private homes.
On a remarkable personal note, Sheri and her first husband, Howard, have reunited. After their divorce, Sheri married Gordon Farbstein, her husband of 42 years. In 1988 the couple relocated to Hilton Head, where Sheri quickly established herself as an outstanding artist in her field. Meanwhile ex-husband, Howard, re-married, moved to Florida and remained with his second wife for 36 years until her death. He had purchased a timeshare on Hilton Head, and eventually learned Gordon passed away, and Sheri lived on the Island. They visited back and forth for a year. “We fell in love all over again,” grinned Howard, who owned advertising agencies in Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Miami. After moving to Hilton Head to be with Sheri, Howard naturally jumped back into gear with his creative genius.
“He named my recent show at the [Walter Greer Gallery] Performing Arts Center, “Brainwaves from the Curious Mind of Sheri Farbstein,” she smiled. “He is filled with ideas to market my work, and we make a good team.” Leading me into her studio she pointed to a large kiln. “This was my first one that Howard gave me 55 years ago.” Howard laughed, “Yeah, it filled our entire garage!” Sheri now has six kilns and feels her transition from pottery to sculpture relates more of “self rather than just hands.” She expresses her passion for art as, “art’s softness rounds out the corners of our lives and provides sensitivity to all we see and feel.”
Personal Insight: I’m very metaphysical. I feel a strong connection to ancient times, especially after visiting Mexican ruins and Egypt. I felt I could have been one of those artists in the tombs.
Fun time: “I love gardening and am re-doing my yard after Matthew destroyed most of it.”
Grateful Appreciation: “Leaving the hospital with our first child, Howard suddenly told me to look up. There for all to see was a huge billboard: “Thank you, Sheri, for our first born.” Someone photographed us in front of it. Our children recently found and enlarged the old photo, which hangs proudly in our home.”
Inspirational Sign in her Studio: We believe in a world where everyone is inspired to live a creative life. We believe human beings are born to make things. We believe making connects us all. We believe tapping into our creativity shows us new possibilities. We wonder: What will we create next?
Howard’s observation: “Sheri has remained her very caring self and is still very involved with animals. We have both mellowed and grown.”