Cheryl Spieth-Gardiner

Written November 6, 2013

My friend, Cheryl, is one of those people that can add several different descriptors after her name and shift between and among them all with ease – Life Coach, University Professor, Business Owner, Lifelong Learner to name a few.

For the next couple of months, however, she is Artist in our house. She offered a few of her most treasured pieces for us to hang on our walls and soak in for awhile.

Speaking Truth hangs in our dining room bringing together the entire color palette of the first floor as well as the colors and sentiment of my own Mysterious Madonna piece that hangs nearby over the fireplace. This is the first clay piece Cheryl ever made. She was in her early 40’s and beginning to find her voice and use it – speaking out, not holding back or holding things in. I can always use a good dose of that sentiment so I fully appreciate her presence.

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Right around the corner sitting atop the living room fireplace is An Unfinished Woman. It is perfect with Diane’s Eyes of Beauty piece as well as the painted porcelain below. It honors a time in her life when she was shedding the corsets, the ‘shoulds’, we are given and take on as women.

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Fiercely Feminine is now part of the hallway gallery with one of Diane’s marbled scarves draped over the top of it. It brings together the paradox of being both fierce (an intense, no-nonsense warrior) and feminine (kind, loving, soft-spoken) by mounting the curvy female torso between an animal printed tigress and a beaded flower. The box is an upcycled antique silverware tray that has been reconstructed and glazed.

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And this one, Conscious Aging, was loaned to me to give me a boost into my 50’s, to pay attention and welcome them, and to relish what comes to be.

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This hangs outside my studio so I pass it a good dozen or so times every day. I consciously pause to read the writing on it at least one of those times. It reads:

“Aging and owning the characteristic wrinkles, sagging, widening and sometimes slowing is unheard of. My kiln is telling me to crack open past ways of viewing the ‘older woman’ to accept, embrace, and celebrate all aspects of her while creating the reality of who I really want this woman, myself, to be.

The ‘cracking open’ helped me to see more clearly how I view myself. This mask looks more 28 than 58. Do I search for remnants of the young woman every time I look in the mirror? What gift will I give myself when I accept and celebrate the wrinkles, relish a softer body, and take joy in an occasional afternoon nap?”

It is a beautiful, thought-provoking, mixed-media piece. The words around the outside are: Play, Live NOW, Sing, Take Naps, Break Rules, Explore, Embrace my Wrinkles, Speak Out, Sizzle, Be BOLD, Have FUN, Live BIG, Dance.

Yes, please, to all of the above!

Cheryl brings all of these pieces together in her own words as follows:

“I created Speaking Truth, the marvelous woman mask,  some time ago when I was just finding my voice. The Unfinished Woman was a little later when I was making lots of female, goddess forms and loads of torsos; a time when I was peeling back the layers to a bare, unfinished place where I could recreate who I wanted to be. Of course, there was some anger and frustration in the pressure of our culture to be the woman I no longer accepted as my role. Then, after I turned 50 and was beginning to think about aging, the Conscious Aging message needed to come out – the rose in bloom is beginning to age,  to be more of a dusty rose rather than the vibrant red when the rose first opened; beautiful and different. Conscious aging is all about accepting that difference in beauty and taking life just a bit easier. And finally, the Fiercely Feminine is where I am now, kind of .  .  . I made it the summer before last. It  was a time of transition into the ‘wild’ pieces that I am doing now. I am currently working on ‘Reclaiming my Wild’ and submitted a ‘Nature’s Magic Unfurled’ to a show this past summer. They all tie together and are a natural progression of who I am and what message my inner being needs to speak. While creating, thoughts and ideas I did not even know were in there come out and speak to, and through, me. It is a good thing! Usually, I don’t even know exactly what is going on until I am really into it, then the light bulb goes off.”

Perfect, yes? Please visit Cheryl’s website to learn more about her life and her passions.

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