The piece was displayed on campus just a few months after the events surrounding the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville which resulted in the death of a young woman.
“The timing ended up being crazy,” said Sheryl, who had begun planning to bring “Writer’s Block” to Charlottesville before the march occurred. “Once it came out of storage, it felt like it was really relevant today.”
Though Sheryl is now a successful artist and professor at University of North Carolina at Greensboro, she began her career as a journalist. Her transition to becoming an artist happened during her year as a Bosch Fellow in Berlin in 1999. The prestigious Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship Program is designed for accomplished young professionals from the U.S. to gain a year of experience in Germany.
“Bosch was amazing because I had applied as a journalist, but they allowed me to do things related to art,” said Sheryl. Upon learning of her new career goals, the Bosch Fellowship team placed Sheryl at the Jewish Museum. There, she worked with a curator to plan for new exhibitions at the museum. The Bosch Fellowship was essential in providing her with the support and connections she needed to build her career as an artist.
Sheryl created “Writer’s Block,” her first major art piece, immediately before she began her Bosch Fellowship. Gaining real world experience at the Jewish Museum helped her learn to plan for her own future exhibitions, including touring “Writer’s Block” around Europe. But that wasn’t the only draw to living in Berlin in the late ‘90s. The city’s cheap rent made it home to many aspiring artists.
Sheryl took advantage of the city’s art scene. She befriended a composer and a choreographer who contributed music and dance to her “Writer’s Block” debut. In fact, Sheryl loved Germany so much that she stayed there for five more years after the fellowship ended.
“I really loved Berlin and I kept having opportunities there,” said Sheryl. During her extended stay overseas, she went on to create another high-profile piece called “I Wish to Say.” Inspired by the “man on the street” interviews Sheryl did as a journalist, Sheryl set up a mobile office with a typewriter and invited passersby to write a postcard to the president of the U.S.
“It was in part because I had been living in Germany for 6 years and I felt very disconnected from American public opinion,” she said. The art installation became an ongoing project that still tours today. In arecent article for the Washington PostSheryl反映出，自2016年以来，“最近参与者之间的情感反应强度提高了。”
“I thought it was important that she learned the language,” Sheryl said of her now 10-year-old. “She still speaks it! I read her German stories at night.”
自Sheryl担任博世研究员以来已经过去了近二十年，但是她建立的联系仍然对她的职业生涯仍然很重要。在博世的一年中，她与另一位同胞罗素·米勒（Russell Miller）接近，后者现在是德国法律学者。他是谢丽尔（Sheryl）的《作家街区》（Writer's Block）作品的忠实拥护者，他们总是谈论合作。那终于发生了今年。