By Peg Lopata, Contributing Writer
SHREWSBURY – Family, faith and art is the personal trinity of support for Shari Fox. A Shrewsbury resident for sixteen years, Fox, 48, has a fulfilling family and work life. While there are artists that inspire her creative endeavors, her family does as well. “They are all supportive and loving. My parents encouraged me to pursue art. My husband, a blacksmith and graphic designer, inspires me with his own drive to create things,” said Fox.
Fox has been an art teacher at Shrewsbury High School for 25 years. She followed the advice of one of her favorite high school teachers who told her to make her avocation her vocation.
“Teaching combines the two things I love doing most: art and working with kids,” explained Fox. Her academic credentials are impressive: she has a bachelor’s degree and post-baccalaureate in studio art from Brandeis University, as well as a master of arts in teaching from the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design. But her education is not over. “I consider myself a life-long learner,” she said. “I will never stop taking classes to learn new techniques, be around other artists and be part of an artistic community.”
Mixed media techniques
Fox has been making art since she was a young child. She describes herself as a mixed media artist because her works combine drawing, painting and collage. “I usually start with a layer of writing, whether it is printed or hand-written text. I add layers of drawing, painting and collage on top of the writing, making connections between the imagery and the text,” explained Fox. She also works in encaustic, a method of painting that uses wax instead of paint.
Art as therapy
While writers use words in a journal to explore their inner life, Fox chronicles her life through her artwork. “I use my art, especially my sketchbook, to express emotions and process what is going on in my life and the world around me. I do art because it is therapeutic.” This approach to art helps her find her voice. “That voice,” she states, “continues to evolve as my life changes.” She also hopes that others can relate to the art that she creates.
Not surprisingly, Fox is inspired by artists who make personally symbolic work, such as Frida Kahlo, a Mexican painter famous for, among other subject matters, her self-portraits. Conceptionally, Fox’s works are her self-portraits. “Kahlo,” Fox explained, “made work about her injuries, illness, and divorce.” Fox has expressed many of her life’s significant moments in her artwork as well, such as her wedding, pregnancies, illnesses and deaths of those she loved. Recently, Fox has made artwork about the pandemic.
Pandemic effects on work
The pandemic has hit close to home for Fox. Her mother-in-law died of COVID-19 and Fox’s recent diagnosis of diabetes has made her more concerned about getting COVID-19 herself. Her classes are now done remotely, which is especially challenging for teaching art. But Fox is not the gloom-and-doom type. “I like to find the silver lining and appreciate what I have,” she said. “When everything was shut down during the spring, everyone in the family was cooking more, even my kids, and we had home-cooked family meals almost every night,” she said. “I do appreciate the fact that the pandemic made us slow down and spend more time together.”
Prints of Fox’s works can be seen at Gaston Art and Frame, Shrewsbury and Elsie Kaye Glassworks, Westboro and on her website: sharifox.com; on Instagram: ShariFoxArt, and on Facebook: ShariFoxArt.