Name: Shari Weschler Rubeck (Sumo Bunni)

Studio location: North Kingstown

What is your background? Studied dance and fine art during my early years in Westchester, New York. Attended Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland, and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Focus was on painting, drawing and printmaking and art history. Upon graduation I worked as a studio assistant and then for seven years in the aerospace industry as an administrator. I remained in Baltimore with my husband for 16 years and cultivated a successful career with a solid following of collectors. I taught art in a private school just outside Baltimore, in addition to working as artist-in-residence at a Catholic Charities Home for abused children. When we moved to Rhode Island in 2003, I pioneered an after-school arts program in three elementary schools called ‘Artrageous Adventures,’ which also was offered from my studio. My current focus is advancing my personal art career with exhibitions in the U.S. and overseas. Additionally, I’m employed as curator for Coastal Living Gallery and administrator for Coastal Properties Group.

Why create art? Because art makes me. Possible alternative options may have been law, computer science, dance, psychology, forensic criminology or NASCAR – but art won my heart.

What is your preferred medium? Why? Graphite, watercolor, acrylic (cannot use any oil-based products – college did not instruct on product safety – or that would still be second top on my list).

How would you describe your work? Figurative, surreal-ish, sometimes funny, sometimes not. Narrative at times. It is analytical, psychological. I want people to think when they look.

What was the inspiration for a recent body of work? Communication; how we are connecting universally, yet separating personally. But I have other series that explore additional aspects of being human and/or our interaction with the animal.

Whose work do you admire? Why? Hess, R. Matta, Hockney, Bacon, Dali, Kandinsky, Rembrandt, Hopper, Klee, Tamayo, Kahlo, Twombly, Matisse, Magritte and an incredible number of current artists’ work I admire tremendously – one, whose art I’d “eat” if I could, is Claire Morgan’s. Too many reasons to explain the “Why” here.

If you could experiment in another medium, what would it be? Fiberglass, latex and resins with textile.

What is your dream project? I’ve got one brewing with dozens of plans drawn up. The piece encompasses many levels of the human condition, but the story begins with one treacherous point. The project intends to exhibit as an installation with multiple facets and mediums – including paper, textiles, paint, printmaking, bookmaking, text, plastic with moving and hanging parts – layers.

What do you do when you’re not making art? I think about making art. :-)

What are you most proud of? Why? My two incredible children and the ability to (most of the time) balance two careers with family – and surviving. Why? Because that is a major feat.

Do you have a favorite local art spot? Nope, I’m a wanderer. I tend not to lock into one thing, but go where the moment takes me.

What advice would you give to aspiring artists? Find a way to use your passion to support yourself. Put out into the universe what you want back. Know that everything you do – no matter how small – is a step to the next level.

Artist Profile features area artists and craftwrokers, highlighting their backgrounds and creative projects. Profiles run periodically in the Arts & Living section of The Independent.

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