Playing With Perception: Understanding Elizabeth Sher's Creative Process


In a June 2018 interview with Oakland Magazine, Bay Area artist and filmmaker Elizabeth Sher describes her creative approach as “an ongoing process of framing/editing.” Whether working with traditional or new media, paint or pixels, static or moving images, her muse is the same: perception.

With each of her works, now available on Artfinder, she examines what is seen, how we construct visual memories, and how those memories inform our understanding of our world.

We asked Elizabeth to discuss her inspirations, practice, and where she sees herself and her work in the future. Here’s what she had to say:

Why or when did you decide to make work?

I met my best friend on the first day of kindergarten. She knew she wanted to be an artist. I loved art and crafts but had never thought it could be my life’s work until I met her. From then on, it was art for me.

What inspires you currently?

Over the past decade most of my work has been inspired by artist residencies I have to internationally: New Zealand, Spain, the “boot” of Italy, Morocco and Iceland twice. I experience these new (to me) cultures by drawing, painting, photography and videography. When I get back to my Oakland studio these become more evolved works.

What tool or medium would you be lost without?

Pencils and acrylics have always been the basis of my practice.  But the addition of the computer and the terrific programs and apps for creating have now become central to my practice. But it always starts with hand work.

Other than your art practice, what other work do you do?

I am Professor of Fine Art Emerita from California College of the Arts.  I taught there for decades. I have served on boards for many Bay Area arts organizations and I am involved with Mercury20 Gallery, an artist run space in Oakland. I also work out a lot.

What’s the coolest thing that’s happened to you in your career? 

There have been many wonderful things that have happened to me in my career in both as an artist and as a filmmaker. In art, I guess getting my first NEA grant was a highlight as well as becoming a Full Professor. In film, my first pink section article and showing in the Mill Valley Film Festival and San Francisco International Film Festival were both “home town” thrills.

If you could be in any museum, what would it be?

I have work in several Bay Area museums, including the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Fine Arts Museums of California, the San Jose Museums of Art, and the Oakland Museum of Art. To have a piece in MOMA or the Metropolitan Museum of Art would be my first choices.

Then, if you could own any piece of art, what would it be?

Again a hard question, but here are a few artists I would love to own a piece by: William Kentridge, Bruce Connor, Martin Puryear, Louise Bourgeois and Agnes Martin.


And what’s your least favorite color?

Colors are my tools so in my art practice I do not have “favorites” or “least favorites.”

Finally, do you have any upcoming events?

I will be showing artist books in CODEX 2019 in February at Craneway Pavillion in Richmond, CA. Very excited!



All stARTup artists are vetted by an independent jury for each fair to ensure that art collectors, enthusiasts, and professionals are discovering and purchasing works from today's top independent artists in the market.

Subscribe to our newsletter for Artist Exhibitions, special features, and details about our upcoming fairs - including stARTup LA 2019. Stay tuned for our list of Exhibiting Artists. Advance tickets are on sale now.

Find Elizabeth on Instagram: @elizabethsher_artandfilm

Q&A by Content Curator Mica England