At her home in rural Appalachia, Cher Shaffer draws, paints, sculpts, or assembles art every day, as she has done for more than four decades. When asked, this self-taught artist scoffs at the question of her art education, laughing that she is not only untrained, but in fact “barely civilized.”
Cher spent her childhood days on Deep South farmland where a little girl’s closest companions were often of the non-human variety. She loved the farmyard animals, yard dogs, stray cats, her pet rabbit “Blue Boy”, and her favorite chicken “Chica Bee.” She was fascinated by the jubilant activities of the people down the road whose lives seemed so different from hers. In time, her observations became her memories. Being of diverse ancestry, Cher learned from her mother about the legends, folkways, and spirituality of her Cherokee heritage. She gained a sensitivity to the multidimensionality of the world, and eventually she would push past the boundaries into other realms. She began painting in earnest following her mother’s death. Over the years, Cher’s art has followed her life’s meandering path, growing and changing with her own self-awareness. As a young mother of three, Cher first painted rural landscapes and childhood memories in a traditional folk-art style, work that was charming, yet constrained. Gradually, as she and the children grew, her art became more fluid and introspective. She learned to open herself up to the experience of making art, painting, sculpting, and assembling, so consumed by creative forces that she loses awareness of the everyday world. Now in her senior years, Shaffer feels liberated as an artist, free to express her emotions, and receptive to enlightenment from any source. She works quickly, spontaneously, and relentlessly. In recent years she is more willing to face fear and mystery, and to express darker insights in her work. Her experiences have brought an acceptance of shadow, while still embracing the light. With her bright smile and quick laughter, Cher remains a happy and optimistic artist, infusing her fanciful images with humor and affection. As life inevitably runs its course, Cher Shaffer’s goal is to leave a body of artwork that will endure. Passionate and energetic to her dying day, she is vowing to go out with a paintbrush in her hand.