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  • Writer's pictureShea Stanfield

The Play of Imagination in Inspiration

Carl Jung wrote, “The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable." The study of the human psyche, known as the shadow self, inspires the subtle images, muted colors, and peaceful forms found on artist Tess Mosko Scherer's soulful surfaces. Tess strives to connect the universal themes of our humanness: the shadow aspect of self, the layers of shame that are painful to break through, the duality that resides within us, and that inner tug of yin and yang, masculine and feminine, shame and vulnerability. Her most recent work explores the quiet stillness, solitude, and connection, disconnection brought on by the pandemic.

Growing up in Middletown, New Jersey, the youngest of seven children, Tess recalls being inspired by the natural world; Nature's energy constantly influenced her drawing and drive to create art. Tess pursued her “calling” in college, where she graduated from Georgian Court College in Lakewood, New Jersey, with her B.A. in Fine Arts and Elementary Education. While working her way through school, Tess secured a staff position with Scherer Gallery in Marlboro, NJ, where she learned the business of art. In 1991 she married the gallery's owner Marty Scherer, and in 1997 Tess and Marty relocated the gallery and her studio space to Sedona, Arizona.

Always fascinated with papers, colors, and communication through her art Tess began studying the art of bookbinding in 2001. Her journey into the formal study and discovery of this ancient art form would open fascinating new worlds for her artistic expressions. While making over a thousand books, Tess mastered the historical techniques of timeless binding materials creating exquisitely one-of-a-kind personal volumes. She describes bookbinding as "A beautiful choreography of paper, leather, book board, and linen thread. It can be gentle; sewing, drawing, folding, or violent; drilling, cutting, and tearing." Tess loves bringing each book to life from the flat, blank, basic materials into a three-dimensional treasure to be held and treasured. Nothing is as enchanting as the luscious hand-crafted book cradling a personal story illustrated from the soul.

The year 2006 found Tess transforming her gallery business from physical space across the threshold into the cyberspace of all online sales. She and Marty embarked on a three-year odyssey traveling the United States, exploring National Parks, wilderness areas, small towns, and huge bustling cities. Illustrations and prose flowed onto the pages of dozens of Tess's handmade books, chronicling her discoveries inside and out of their journey. By the time she came ashore in the Phoenix area in 2009, Tess had found she had emerged to meet her calling as a full-time artist. Her background in art history and the study of human psychology aids her quest to find the balance between the inner personal world and the outer world of the greater universe. Since then, Tess has retired from the gallery business to focus on his philanthropic and artistic endeavors.

"A beautiful choreography of paper, leather, book board, and linen thread. It can be gentle; sewing, drawing, folding, or violent; drilling, cutting, and tearing."

Today, Tess is the Executive Director of the Arizona Art Alliance, working with 15 arts organizations. In addition to a robust outreach program offering free art classes for Veterans and Survivors of Suicide, the Arizona Art Alliance supports the leadership teams of the member organizations. From hosting exhibitions to creating seminars, Tess’s work is varied and creative, tailored to the needs of each group. This work allows her to work in the art space and simultaneously give back to the community. She also serves on the board of the Arizona Artists Guild. Tess has facilitated months-long programs in China and Bangladesh with the World Academy for the Future of Women. Funded by a grant from the U.S. State Department, "Give Voice to Women Through the Arts" took Tess into the rural villages of China, making art with women and children. The program also facilitates programs on leadership with college students on campuses in both countries.

Tess maintains a private practice to assist others as a mentor and Life Coach, helping individuals through transitional times in their lives to find and maintain balance in their process. Recently she collaborated with Dr. Caron Sada, professor of Psychology at Paradise Valley Community College (PVCC), David L. Bradley, Professor of Fine Art at PVCC, and Dr. Lisa Wayman, Chief of Nursing Education at the Phoenix VA, on a research study funded by the National Education Association (NEA). The study aimed to examine leisure art's effects on mood, cognition, and socialization. Tess worked as a facilitator, instructor, program manager, and evaluator of art programs for Veterans in this study; all activities she has been engaged in for many years. The grant allowed the validation of previous research done for nearly a decade to improve well-being through the creative process. Additionally, Tess has worked with young women who have been sexually abused and trafficked, Native American Elders, Non-English speaking adult refugees, and Survivors of Suicide.

Tess's creative work is represented by Van Gogh’s Ear Gallery in Prescott, Arizona. She loves creating art from her home studio on an urban farm, with includes chickens, fish, and gardens that she shares with her husband, David L. Bradley, and their dog Oliver in Phoenix. The work of artist Tess Mosko Scherer supports the well-being of individuals and the community. Through her efforts, we have found creating works of art allows the mind to be in a safe place while it contemplates the more challenging issues. The process provides an opportunity to explore solutions in a different light.


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