By Kate Hall
Most birds use their natural plumage to attract their mates. Not so with the bowerbirds. They strike a different chord, relying on their wits as creators instead. They are the steampunk renegades of the avian world. Bowerbird males rely on their keen sense of style and arrangement as they construct intricate twig structures called bowers. Once the bowers are built, they switch modes and conduct themselves as the most obsessive masters of design. They scour their surroundings for objects of color and textural interest. Pieces, both old and new, found treasures and items discarded, colors and textures are woven together to form a display designed to woo the object of their affections. As their collection is amassed, the treasures are grouped together according to color and their unique preferences. No effort is spared to make sure every adornment is meticulously arranged. The whole is greater than the mere sum of its parts. So it is with bowerbird artist.
Cheryl Dossey of Cheryl Dossey Art on Bay Street in Lakeland is one such artist. Dossey, like the bowerbird, focuses her creative efforts on assemblage. “I love to mix the old with the new. Old books, paper, letters, stamps and found objects with a past will usually find new life in a piece of my artwork.” Dossey weaves her own doodles into the mix seeking to craft a work rich in texture, depth and storytelling. Each work is a complex maze that invites the viewer to unravel its elements, sorting origins from embellishment. Self-described as lighthearted and whimsical, the works are designed with simple messages of positivity.
When asked what drove her towards art, Dossey suggests that it was always omnipresent in her life. “I have been creating as long as I can remember. I have family members in creative fields. Art has been a continuous theme throughout my life and career. I can’t imagine my world without it.” Dossey’s roots are steeped in small town Florida. She pursued art throughout her childhood education and went on to study at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. From there, she opened a framing shop and enjoyed success in the industry for 25years.
Over those years, Dossey confesses that her creative spirit went on hiatus. When she started offering part of her framing shop as a gallery to showcase other local artists, reawakening came. “I was feeling rejuvenated and excited again to create my work. “ In 2011 Dossey began taking her work more seriously. She locally entered her first judged exhibition, Arts on the Park. Her efforts were rewarded with a merit award and the sale of her work. “That experience was the encouragement I needed to further develop and pursue my art.”
Dossey’s work has been warmly received and continues to win awards and notoriety in the press. Recently celebrated were the publications of her work in the Winter 2016 issues of both Somerset Life and Somerset Studio. The publications followed her acceptance of a third place award for her entry, “Dream”, in the Fall 2015 Lakeland Art Guild Show. How does it feel? “Like most artists, having your work recognized or appreciated is very rewarding. However, what I enjoy most is being able to share, teach and encourage others on their creative journey.” When asked about her plans for the future, “In five years, I would like to be teaching on a much bigger scale. My vision is to be part of a creative group that travels around the country to varied art retreats.” And just like that, the Bowerbird Artist is off in search of the next great assemblage.