Cheryl Sorg - October Featured Artist

Cheryl Sorg

Encinitas, CA
(it's a funky little beach town a bit north of San Diego)

Last time you ate a pancake?
That should really be top secret, as I went gluten-free a few months ago and I've been cheating like mad the last few weeks. I ate a 'pancake ball' (Trader Joe's danish pancake) just a few days ago!Favorite day of the week?
Saturday! No lunches to pack, homework to check.....bliss!

Favorite website besides your own?
I'm a total Pinterest addict. And I love the Jealous Curator. Her tagline on the blog is: "A collection of artwork that inspires & depresses me. I know it’s good when I’m left thinking DAMN I WISH I THOUGHT OF THAT." This is a sentiment I can so, SO relate to! And speaking of jealousy, I also love The Selby and The Sartorialist. The photography on both sites is just gorgeous, and I both love and hate looking at the images - people with their fabulous outfits, homes, style....


Give us a brief description of you and your work.

I am a booklover, and my love of literature manifests itself in an obsessive cut-and-paste process in which I take books, dissemble them line by line, and re-configure the snippets of text into a variety of forms large and small inspired by the themes and imagery within their stories. Currently, I am working on a series of works inspired simply by these words by Mother Teresa: "When there is no peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other." I also do commission work, including portraits of people, using their thumbprints writ very large, and their favorite books, quotes, poetry, music, etc.

Your artwork is incredible and extremely unique. Can you give us the abbreviated version of what you do to create a piece?

Thank you! I do two different kinds of things these days - bookworks, and commission work (custom thumbprint portraits, maps collages, etc.). For the bookworks, I'll select a text (an entire book sometimes, sometimes poetry or short stories), take it apart page by page, line by line, sometimes even word by word, depending on how small I need the snippets to be, and configure them with adhesive or clear tape into all manner of forms....spirals, swirls, spheres, you name it. For the custom work, I do image and text gathering (many, many hours worth sometimes!) based on a list of things the client gives me, and create strips from the collection of imagery, from which I cut the snippets. The thumbprint portraits use a person's own unique thumbprint pattern, blown up to almost three feet high, and trace the lines using the snippets from all their favorite things, creating a totally personalized portrait. For the map collages (which I create on gorgeous Plywerk bamboo panels!), I gather maps and postcard and poster images for the locations a client gives me and create a spiraled collage with the colorful snippets.

Explain how your art evolved into the collage work you do so beautifully?

In school at MassArt, I was a photography major and was photographing little scenes, installations and constructions in my studio instead of out in the world. I was creating most of these things from the pages of books - hand-shredded strips, origami cranes, rolled tubes, you name it. Eventually I set aside the camera and started creating things from books that I had no plans to make photographs from, just creating things that would in themselves be the end 'product'. This work became the crazy (and crazy-making), obsessive bookworks, giant constructions using tomes like Moby Dick, The Odyssey, Ovid's Metamorphoses in their entirety and requiring hundreds of hours of work each, because of a rule I had imposed on myself that the books I used would be used in their entirety, and (in theory) readable. After years of working in this way, I allowed myself to start breaking that rule (perhaps for sanity's sake?) and I started doing smaller things with texts. The loops and whorls of those first smaller-scale pieces were very reminiscent of the patterns of a fingerprint, which led me to creating text works with thumbprints (my own at first, using texts I personally loved), and the thumbprints then caught on, and commission collage work became a large part of what I do!

Most of the 'cuttings' for your collages come from books and magazines correct?. Are you perpetually collecting, snipping, and cataloging cuttings or do you start fresh when inspiration hits?

I used to collect images and text and squares from magazines like crazy. I still have boxes and boxes of things I cut from magazines once upon a time. And I'm still something of a magazine hoarder (to my husband's chagrin, I'm sure....). But now, as much of my collage work, aside from the bookworks, is custom these days, I gather imagery, text, etc. for those works once I get the order from the client. And a lot of that gathering is now done online, with a bit done through copying from books, cd liner notes, etc. It's a bit less messy, but I have to admit poring through magazines was a bit more fun than scrolling through images on a computer screen.

What's your goal as an artist?

Well, the completely utterly honest answer to this question is that I'd like to reduce the amount of time I spend doing custom commission work and focus on the purely free, wild and creative work of coming up with new (sometimes very cool, sometimes very lame....) ideas. I am hoping to have the time and resources to start working on giant bookworks again. There are forms that are always presenting themselves to me in my brain and in my sketchbook that I am continually drawn to and want to explore - butterflies, spirals, meandering traveling lines, tree rings, grids. Grids! I used to do a lot of grids - paper 'quilts' of a sort, and I've been having a bunch of ideas that would involve using Plywerk, actually! I have in mind bookworks that would involve dozens of small text pieces on square plywerk panels then arranged on the wall in a grid to form a single whole. When you see a giant order of squares from me, you'll know I've finally found the time and money to do it! My goal as an artist is two-fold...... One is simple, that I like for the viewer to have a 'wow' reaction when they see a piece of mine - wow, that's amazing, wow, she's crazy, wow, what an incredible amount of work - that kind of thing. The other is that I'd like more and more to be able to bring the things (causes, subjects) in the world that speak to me - inspire me, plague me - into my work in more and more prominent and powerful ways.....literature, peace, sex trafficking, depression and suicide, the idea that we are all connected. Whew. Okay, I need to stop writing here and get back to work!

Why do you chose to show your artwork on Plywerk?

Oh, a bunch of reasons - They're gorgeous, for one. The coloring of the bamboo and the finish of the edges, beautiful. They are ready to hang, which is fantastic. I don't know if this is common to most artists, but I for one really don't enjoy the presentation end of things - that is, I love LOVE creating the piece, but distinctly do NOT love figuring out matters regarding framing, hanging, etc. It stresses me out. Creating directly onto the Plywerk is completely stress-free! Finally, they're eco-friendly, which is always a (major) plus.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

All manner of things to some degree - patterns in nature, my husband's work (he's a scientist, works with DNA and such), but mostly the written word. Quotes, song lyrics, poetry, and books, books, and more books. Books make me so happy, and I derive so much from them - escape, solitude, laughs, tears, and - of course - inspiration.

How do you like your eggs prepared?

Eggs Benedict - smoked salmon, hollandaise, yum....

Favorite living artist?

Yoko Ono

Favorite Golden Girl?

You know, your asking me this reminds me of a bit from that show I found so funny at the time, and as I think of it now as a woman who is no longer in my twenties (or thirties, ahem.....), I find it even funnier. I think it was the Rue McClanahan character, and she was talking about the dilemma of sex positions as an older woman.....that being on top made your face sag forward, being on the bottom made the boobs sag backward. What to do?

Top three movies of all time?

Roman Holiday (with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck), Midnight in Paris and, I have to confess, almost anything with (don't laugh) Hugh Grant - Love Actually, About a Boy, Notting Hill, I could watch any of those movies over and over.

Does thinking of Plywerk give you love butterflies in your stomach?

But of course. And I'm a little in love with butterflies.

Favorite hair style?

A short pixie cut a la Jean Seberg, Audrey Hepburn, Ginnifer Goodwin, Emma Watson. LOVE. The only fantastic picture ever taken of me I had hair like that (and of course I was about eighteen years younger than I am now.....).

Breakfast cereal of choice?

Cheerios. With slices of banana.

More about Cheryl

Cheryl was born in Cincinnati, OH but spent about 22 years of her life off and on in the northeast and considers herself something of a Bostonian at heart. She moved to Encinitas from Boston in 2003. Since the move, she met her husband Xavier, had two beautiful babies (Hugo and Esmé), and has settled into the West Coast lifestyle.

Cheryl has a B.F.A and graduated with honors, from the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, MA. her work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in galleries and museums across the United States, including WorkSpace in New York City, The Copley Society of Art, The Photographic Resource Center and Forest Hills Trust in Boston, Massachusetts, Eric Phleger Gallery, the San Diego Art Institute and the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, California, the Long Beach Museum of Art and the Torrance Art Museum. Her work is also included in the esteemed Allan Chasanoff Bookworks Collection in New York City, and is referenced in the book A Companion to Herman Melville edited by Wyn Kelley, in the chapter entitled “Creating Icons: Melville in Visual Media and Popular Culture’, written by Elizabeth Schultz, as well as a book entitled ‘Four-Word Self-Help by Patti Digh.

Cheryl has received a number of awards and honors, including a fellowship at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire (otherwise known as heaven), juror’s awards in numerous group exhibitions, a travel grant from the Massachusetts College of Art to create work in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and publication in the fall 2008 issue of Studio Visit Magazine, an ‘exhibition in print’ from the Open Studios Press (publishers of New American Paintings).

We are totally in love with Cheryl and her work. The next time I come down to Encinitas to rip some waves, I'm sure we'll meet up to eat some benedict at Swami's. By rip waves, I mean put on a wetsuit and bob around in the ocean sitting on a surfboard.

Win a Cheryl Sorg print on Plywerk

Post a comment below and you will automatically be entered in a drawing to win a Cheryl Sorg print mounted on 3/4" bamboo Plywerk!!! We'll select a winner at random at the end of the month so make sure you come back to the blog in early November to see if you won and to check out the new featured artist! We'll ship it anywhere in the continental US for free. If you win and need it shipped internationally, you're on the hook for shipping costs. Sorry to be so mean.

17 thoughts on “Cheryl Sorg - October Featured Artist”

  • Athena Roth

    Awesome work and a great, fun interview! Love hearing about the process. Best, Athena.

  • Mercedes Shaffer

    Cheryl's work has an incredible mixture of beauty and intelligence - just like the artist herself!
    ~ Mercedes Shaffer

  • Pearl mattenson

    Thank you for featuring Cheryl here. I am a proud owner of two of her pieces. My absolute devotion to text and awe at her artistry has something to do with it. Also- love to have discovered that we have Audrey Hepburn in common.

  • Amy Lemaire

    loving the sheer creativity in the pieces that are featured here. and loving discovering a new artist (well, new to me) whose work i would be thrilled to display in my home!

  • Ann Kufta

    Love her work!

  • Sara Kirschenbaum

    Wonderful work. I especially enjoyed her website. Wonderful Odyssey work - i hope it finds just the right home.

  • janet

    I absolutely love this unique idea. Its somehow so comforting, maybe because its simple, but yet so interesting for the eyes and mind. I could look that her work for a long time and never tire of it.

  • Kristin


  • LaLa

    Her butterflies are surprisingly adorable and whimsical. so nice.

  • Michelle Moore

    Beautiful and intriguing work! I love the same breakfast of choice!! :)

  • Diane

    Beautiful work, really inspiring! Also appreciate the recycling of materials in her art, as I also have a stack of magazines always staring at me and just can't seem to get rid of.

  • douglas frierott

    love her work! a good friend had a couple of pieces commissioned from her a few years back for her daughters. encinitas was our home for years, just moved to portland last year. great post!

  • Debra Bruce Moon
    Debra Bruce Moon October 26, 2012 at 5:36 am

    I find her piece about Moby Dick drawing me in. It reminds me of a stone being thrown into water which causes a ripple effect. Nice image! I, too, have magazines and cut out images starring me in the face! I LOVE collage and use in in bound sketchbooks for myself. I love Cheryl's inspiration and stick-to-it attitude in her work. And I especially love her use of color. I also love color and use it in my own work by using oil pastels, huge Oil Bar(s), and encaustic works (collage, natural objects, "flying things" and fiber). I would LOVE to use Plywerk panels to use as a base (and finish) when artmaking. Congrads to Cheryl for such beautiful work and focus in Plywerk's blog!

    • Garrett

      Debra is the winner of the Cheryl Sorg print mounted on Plywerk! Please email us at to claim your prize!

      Be sure to include your shipping address in the email so we know where to ship the finished piece! Hoping this makes today one of your best Monday's ever!

  • Portland Paralegal Services

    I am WITH you on the agony of presentation - and all of that driving around buying glass, frames, hangers, matts, glass cleaner, cotton gloves . . . HATE it.

    Bamboo is a lovely finish, especially with flesh tones.

    Your cut butterflies are great!

  • Debra White

    Inspired by Cheryl's art and understand the love of books. Thank you for this enjoyable interview.

  • Michelle

    I love Cheryl's work! I am a book lover too. I'm drawn in by all the book details in the pieces as well as the gorgeous design of the whole. So creative and unique. Thank you Cheryl!

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