This week meet Co-op member and textile artist Sherry Bingaman, the creative mind behind Nueva Vida.
My love of making and selling my textile work goes back to my childhood. When I was nine years old, my mother received eight free sewing lessons with the purchase of her new sewing machine. Since she was already an expert seamstress, Mom let me have the lessons instead. Aprons were the first things I learned to make. A little nine year old going around our neighborhood selling her cross stitched gingham aprons must have been hard to resist, because I sold as many as I could make! I trace my passion for making and selling textiles to these first sales.
My parents were artists, and I grew up surrounded by the materials and inspirations involved in their paintings and commercial art. I was especially fascinated with the paper doll books they made, and I designed and sewed dresses for my own dolls.
My love of fabrics continued to grow, and in 1967 I entered Iowa State University as a textile major. After my very first weaving class I changed my major to applied art with an emphasis in weaving and have ever since been obsessed with everything textiles.
I met my husband, Jim, while we were both students at ISU. After graduation and Jim’s 3 year stint in the Navy, we returned to my home town of Kenosha, Wisconsin. Here is where I started participating in art fairs in the communities between Milwaukee and Chicago. This area was rich with shows, and I had some inspiring initial success participating in various shows including The Old Town Show in Chicago and Lakefront Festival of the Arts in Milwaukee. Jim encouraged me and soon quit his job to work with me. We continued to make our living as designer/weavers for 15 years, having two artistic daughters along the way -- Kate Bingaman-Burt and Kory Bingaman Francka.
In 1980 we moved to rural Missouri to be centrally located and more accessible to shows all over the country and to experience “country living” on a bluff overlooking the beautiful Gasconade River near the small rural town of Vienna, Missouri. Jim and I were the featured fiber artists in the very first Best of Missouri Hands publication in 1986. During those 15 years we sold our hand-woven designs in shows throughout the country and in shops and galleries in Japan and Canada. .
By 1994, I had earned my art education certification and began teaching art K-12 at the local school (college costs were lurking in the near future) and also continued with our weaving business. Jim worked shows on his own for several more years while his interest in computers developed into a passion and new career. I taught for 13 years while continuing with shows on my own in the summer. My passion for weaving expanded into the world of dyeing, both my yarns and now fabrics. My one-of-a-kind colors are my signature. Silk is my favorite material—both silk yarns and fibers and silk fabric for my scarves. Dyeing silk yields wonderful subtle color blending very reminiscent of a watercolor painting. I love the unpredictability of my dye process—no two pieces are ever the same.
My main sources of inspiration are ethnic textiles, especially those from Mexico and Central America. I have traveled to Mexico many times and treasure the rugs and embroidered textiles I collected there. The colors and textures from these cultures continue to excite and inspire me.
I was an elementary principal for six years and retired June 2013. I continue doing art fairs and selling my work through shows and my Etsy shop that I opened in 2006.
In 2014 we moved to Fairview, Oregon to be closer to our Portland-based daughters and to get involved in the exciting life in the Portland area! I joined Portland Saturday Market and show my work there most weekends. I heard about Artistic Portland through another artist, and am so pleased to now be a member of this cool group. Being a part of Artistic Portland gives my work a special home among a group of other local artists who are all working together to create the best venue for local handmade. Very exciting!!
Creative people simply MUST create. A favorite quote of mine is “I make stuff, because I get sad if I don’t.” So true!! -Sherry
Stop by Artistic Portland any day of the week 10 am - 6 pm (noon-5 pm on Sundays) to see and purchase Sherry's work in person.