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Creativity in the cornfields

Taylor’s new First Lady shares her artistic inclinations

A painting created by Sherry Haines illustrates her creativity (Photo by Elyse Horb.)

A painting created by Sherry Haines illustrates her artistic talent. (Photo by Elyse Horb)

By Brianna Kudisch | Echo 

“It’s the creative process,” Sherry Haines said as she sat in her airy blue kitchen, her hands wrapped around the warm mug filled with coffee.

Taylor’s newest First Lady brings a wealth of experience and talent to the art community on campus. Both an original artist and former art teacher, Haines is well-educated on the process of creating something new.

“Art is who I am; it’s a big part of me,” Haines said. “It’s the process—it’s the creative process.”

Light streamed through the huge glass windows, adjacent to the white double french doors leading to another room, illustrating the ethereal way in which she talked about art.

The nearby garage was recently converted into an art studio. Previously used as a wood-working shop by former Taylor President Jay Kesler, the separate space was fixed up by donors’ contributions and converted into a studio for Haines. Basic necessities such as running water, a bathroom and a sink were added to the space.

The studio is bright and spacious, with natural light flooding in the abundant windows. There’s a loft above, accessible by dark-stained stairs. A small bathroom is tucked in the corner, completing the image of simplicity and possibility.

Haines plans on sharing the space with the rest of Taylor’s community by opening it up to others. She hopes to hold sessions in the studio, like hosting a canvas and coffee night or having a guest artist come talk.

She even mentioned the possibility of bringing in a friend from the Indianapolis area to teach students how to create Ukrainian eggs, a traditional craft that involves wax and dye.

Haines remembered taking art classes at the local YMCA while growing up. Her dad signed her up for them, noticing that art was her passion. Haines painted while in high school, and when she came to Taylor as a student, she pursued a degree in art education.

She received her Master of Arts in painting from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.

Haines figured she could teach art during the school year and then paint during the summer. Haines started teaching 35 years ago and spent the last 18 years at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis.

Her inspiration comes from a certain feeling she gets. “It’s something…it’s that ‘aha’ moment. It’s that moment where you take a double look,” Haines said.

Despite traveling to many places, including Ireland, Switzerland and Korea, Haines has yet to see the art museums in Italy and France; one of her aspirations is to visit them.

In spite of Haines’ extensive travels, her favorite artist is the early 20th century American realist painter, Edward Hopper. She admires the serene quality of his paintings, which remind her of stage settings.

“They all look like they’re quiet, even if they have people in them…There’s something about that that I like,” she said with a laugh.

Haines’ prefered medium used to be painting in oils, until about five or six years ago when she started using watercolors and pastels to create her art. She enjoys painting a variety of subjects.

“I used to always paint similar things, but now (my inspiration comes from) when you just have that moment and you have to look at it again and take it in again,” Haines said. “What speaks to me—I transfer that into a painting.”

When finished, she often gives her paintings away as gifts. Occasionally, they are sold or hung in her own home.

As an art educator for over 30 years, Haines has taught a plethora of students. Her best advice to her former mentees still rings true today: “Stay true to yourself. Don’t try to be someone else or paint like someone else.”

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