Sherri Gamble uses plaster to create molds of hands and colorful paintings. Her work is on display at VALA Eastside. Aaron Kunkler/Redmond Reporter

Sherri Gamble uses plaster to create molds of hands and colorful paintings. Her work is on display at VALA Eastside. Aaron Kunkler/Redmond Reporter

Local artist uses craft to bring people together

Colorful works of art with rounded and jagged splotches of color hang from the walls in a corner of VALA Eastside along with hands frozen in time.

Sherri Gamble’s display at the Redmond art studio focus on the use of plaster, the main medium the local artist uses to create her works.

Gamble uses natural-based plasters, made from materials like marble and clay, to push her ideas from thought to reality.

“It’s a way to capture people’s memories,” she said, while showcasing her most recent works.

While she recently finished her largest project ever, plastering some 5,000 square feet at Olympic College in Bremerton last year, she has also been focusing on a more intimate form of art.

This centers around making plaster and glass molds of hands.

One piece on display is the hands of a couple holding each other, and one of her holding a dog’s paw.

The molds are finely detailed, with skin folds and nails jumping from the casts. Another cast is of her hand grabbing a brush with its bristles layered in the plaster.

One of her current projects includes a social project, stemming from a residency in Chicago’s south side.

She was invited to work in the city in 2016, and in 2017 she brought a group of students and police officers together for a project.

It entailed bringing police into a school and having them and students hold hands in a plaster cast.

While none of these casts are on display, there is a collage of pictures from the event.

It proved to be popular, so she was invited to hold a similar event outside a Chicago police station later, where members of the community and police once again held hands for molds.

“That’s kind of the next generation of my work, using plaster to bring communities together,” Gamble said.

She was inspired to work with police after she talked with an officer who said he used metalworking as a way to relieve stress after a day on the job.

“How can we use art to help people cope?” she said.

Her work is part of a display at VALA that explores issues of social justice.

Also hung at the gallery is a wooden ladder bridge with pictures and written sentiments dealing with social justice hanging from it.

Gamble is a professional working artist, and often takes on projects decorating people’s houses as a trade.

Gamble used to work for Microsoft, and around 15 years ago she got interested in plaster art.

Since then, her career has taken off and she hopes to use her platform to inspire new generations of artists, particularly girls, to explore the possibility of a career in the working arts.

She enjoys the work that offers her a chance to stay active.

“Number one, that I can get dirty and work with my hands physically, I think that’s why I switched from working at a computer job,” she said.

While the work can be tiring at times, Gamble said she’s happy with her decision.

“Man, you sleep really well at night, and it’s a great way to make a living as a ‘working artist’,” she said.

The public can check out her work at VALA, and the studio will be hosting an open house on Feb. 3, where people can come and try their hand at plaster. VALA is located in Redmond Town Center at 7525 166th Ave. N.E.

Artist Sherri Gamble applies plaster to a palate in the VALA Eastside art studio. Gamble uses plaster as her main creative medium. Aaron Kunkler/Redmond Reporter

Artist Sherri Gamble applies plaster to a palate in the VALA Eastside art studio. Gamble uses plaster as her main creative medium. Aaron Kunkler/Redmond Reporter

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