Sherry B. Ways is a mixed media, cloth doll artist who has re-discovered the depths of creativity within doll making. With her skill and inventiveness, Ways expresses reflections of her life experiences through the designs and makings of her one-of-a-kind, soul dolls of folkloric influence and redefined essences of ethnicity and originality.
The term One of a Kind Soul Dolls, a name Ways describes her work, is a perfect description of her journey as a doll artist. In what was the beginning of Ways first in encounter of doll making, was the beginning of Ways ascertaining more of herself, her life purposes, visions and insights, through the creativity of doll artistry. She became to understand the true meaning of purpose; the purpose to answer and to respond to the imageries from the creative forces from within, forces of which Ways calls “the voice of the soul”. Ways uses various mediums such as vibrant cotton fabrics to craft body forms, some of which have an African design to them; beads, of which she uses in an innovatively artistic way to create connections between forearms and ankles with feet; yarns to give the dolls an origination of ethnicity and authenticity. Each of Ways dolls are presented as a spirited work of art. Her dolls seem to communicate the human emotions and experiences within the complexities of life.
Sherry’s one-of-a-kind dolls have recently been published in “Black Dolls: A Comprehensive Guide to Celebrating, Collecting and Experiencing the Passion” by Debbie Behan Garrett, Doll Castle News Magazine and Soft Dolls and Animals Magazine. And this year, Burton-Ways contributed to the book by renown doll artist Pamela Hastings entitled “Hot Flash”. Burton-Ways is a former Board member of the Ward 7 Arts Collaborative in Washington, DC and is an Advisory Board member for the ARCH Development Corporation who oversees the Honfluer Gallery and the Vivid Solutions Gallery in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, DC.
Sherry has taught doll making classes at the Smithsonian Institution/Anacostia Museum in Washington, DC and Art for the People, Incorporated, a non-profit arts organization for the homeless in Silver Spring, Maryland. Ways has exhibited her work in galleries and shows in California, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington, DC. Ways attended Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland, The Wayne Art Center in Wayne, Pennsylvania, and the Tactile Art Center in Denver, Colorado.
Creating art is an exciting process for me. The excitement of playing with paint, watercolor, fabric, spray paint, beads and other embellishments stirs my imagination to create meaningful images by bringing together the figurative form of One of a Kind (OOAK) mixed media dolls in a two dimensional form. Working intuitively and trying to keep a balance between chance and control, I bring forth the female images that tell a story, uniting the past and present of women East of the River. My art also functions as therapy as I express and explore thoughts and emotions about my daily life circumstances and beliefs as an African American woman East of the River.
I chose to use a singular female form as my point of departure. I seek to educate through my artwork on race, gender, ignorance, folklore, and the influences of society based on perceptions of life in East Washington. On the other hand, I seek to convey the connection I have found between inner peace and spirituality. My artwork demonstrates words I cannot express. They are the voice of my soul.
I love the versatility of fabric as my base medium. The beautiful colors and intriguing textures of used in fabrics have led to my recent obsession with fabric and fibers.
The vast variety of types and styles allows for infinite combinations of visual and tactile textural variety. Adding other media such as paper, yarn, watercolor, acrylics, beads, metals and most recently spray paint to this base brings contrast to the fabrics’ natural warmth. And finding new uses for what I have on hand has often been the impetus for creativity throughout my life.
Some of my pieces are intricately sewn using advanced techniques; others are fused collage with top-stitching, painting, beading or other embellishments.
My goal is to take what I have and what I find around me and make something better;
something that’s positive and transforming, but is also expressive of my personality and experiences. I believe that is what is going on in Wards 7 and 8. Residents in this part of the city are taking what they have around them and making it better.