Traces by Leah Draffen
Cheryl Ross Brown Living a Dream Deferred
“WE ARE ALL PERFECTLY IMPERFECT. My art celebrates non-conformity and embraces the beauty of self-expression and individuality,” says Cheryl Ross Brown, a self-described free spirit who enjoys cutting and grinding each piece of glass by hand for her mosaic art. For years, Cheryl put her love of art aside to pursue careers as Mary’s Academy assistant principal and social worker. “I always loved art, but after a hard day’s work, I didn’t have the creative energy to do it. I would get to do a piece during the holidays or school break while I kept telling myself every year at work that, ‘this is going to be my last year,’” Cheryl explains. “Then I would be disappointed in myself because 60
I would tell my students, ‘step out on faith, follow your passion,’ yet, I wasn’t doing it. Finally, I was sitting at my desk at the end of the school year with the form you fill out saying if you will return the next year. I was crying to my daughter on Facetime, and she finally said, ‘Mom, just do it. What are you waiting for?’” This time, Cheryl jumped. She filled out the form letting her principal know that she would not be returning. And after that, all of her creativity flooded back in. Cheryl now spends the majority of her time in her home studio in Slidell, crafting mosaic glass works of art. Gathering inspiration from nature, sketches and other objects, she creates unique designs on canvas, furniture and wood. Cheryl’s talent has been a mainstay for most of her life. Her skill in mosaic was realized over 20 years ago when she decided to enroll in stained-glass classes at John Sullivan Studio on Magazine Street in New Orleans. Training under the late John Sullivan and Alain Cuneo, Cheryl learned the history and techniques of stained-glass design. As time went on, she began to broaden her talent by creating mosaic glass art. She says, “Unlike stained-glass art, which requires exact measurements, mosaic art allows me more freedom of expression and the flexibility to create outside the lines.” With her return to creativity, inspiration began to flourish in the form of flowers and inspiring women as she began her first series and show, In Full Bloom. Last year, her first solo art exhibition was held at the Jazz and Heritage Gallery in New Orleans and was well received by art enthusiasts.