Its easy to see that artist Char Bickel is serious when it comes to joy and fun.
Its good to keep in touch with that childhood joy, advises the smiling Northport resident who creates evocative, handsome shadow boxes of painted silk and cotton fabric that is painstakingly cut and glued. I loved making art as a kid and I still do.
Paying homage to collage, Bickels works draw their inspiration from the nature that surrounds her in Leelanau County and most of her works include images of animals rabbits, fish, birds, and most noticeably, bears. In fact, her haunting image of a Juggling Bear has become synonymous with her work, appearing in a variety of her shadow boxes.
Theres something about the shape of bears, she says. Ive been doing the Juggling Bear since 1992. Its sort of a logo for me now. To me, it reflects that you should handle parts of life in balance and joyfully.
Bickels shadow boxes begin simply with white silk that is screen printed with splashes of color. Then she cuts and glues the silk into images as simple and subtle as bears flying kites or ponies romping on a beach. The scenes may seem other-worldly, yet are rooted in the familiar. Take a closer look and youll see sturdy stitching linking a stone to the beach or fixing the moon in the sky.
I like adding detail, she says. I like to start with a strong image first, then see something else and something else, adding details.