March 8 – April 8

SONDRA SHERMAN | Upside Down In Paradise

Upside Down in Paradise is a series of jewelry which explores imaging the natural and cultural landscape of Southern California. Using photographs taken while on the road, these pieces express the poetic paradoxes found in the day to day of “California Dreamin”. While Upside Down in Paradise is situated within a particular geographical locale, its subject is inherently universal. The culture of California is a microcosm of the United States, filled with a diversity of ethnicities and social histories. The experience of (re)locating oneself in an unfamiliar place is one that is shared as are the perceptions developed as a traveler passing through.

Sherman has been collecting visual research for a few years; taking photographs and videos while traveling by car or train within SoCal. The viewpoint provided by traveling in climate controlled cars and trains and on freeways and tracks that transect the natural landscape became a resonant framing device. As a relatively new resident of California coming from Northeastern US urban environments, she cannot help but reflect on the state’s history and socio-cultural conditions evident in its urban roadside scenery, especially in relation to its magnificent natural beauty. The vestigial glamour of the California idyll of the 1950s and 60s is palpable in the faded commercial signs and architectural facades that punctuate the roadside with gemstone-like shapes and generous proportions. Against the expansive blue sky, this landscape echoes oversize jewelry with sun-weathered surfaces. At the same time, intermixed cultural diversity is visible in in the variety of material, color and composition in the urban surroundings.

The imagery is distorted and fragmented, reflecting the heightened awareness, continuous movement, and endless sky, sea, roadways, and dreamy wanderlust encountered when going to California in your mind. The landscapes show no consistent relationship to the horizon or gravity which amplifies the surreal sense of detachment that car culture provides. At times the freeway is a sea of cars while green interstate signs are floating clouds and the planes overhead a passing ship. Upside Down in Paradise translates those sensations so that the wearer becomes the passenger, the traveller, the observer, within an absurd yet extraordinary landscape.



Sondra Sherman’s work explores the distinctive voice of jewelry and the psychological and social context of the body/wearer. Subjects inherent to those contexts of personal and social identity have inspired diverse series of work which use the social codes and private/public locations of jewelry as a platform which invites a broad audience to a conversation grounded in empathy.

Sherman has been the recipient of many awards including Individual Artist Fellowships from the Rhode Island Council on the Arts Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Emerging Artists Fellowship (2001), Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Mid-Atlantic Regional National Endowment for the Arts (1989) as well as a Fulbright Scholarship for Study Abroad. Exhibited and published in Europe and the US, her work can be found in significant public and private collections including the Museum of Art and Design, NY, the Los Angeles County Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. Sherman is Head of the Jewelry and Metalwork Program at San Diego State University, CA. She received the Diplom Degree (MFA) from the Academy of Fine Art in Munich GERMANY, where she resided for ten years.