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In the Studio with Sharyl Landis

Catherine Crain

Animated lines, vibrant colors and energetic patterns— three things that are consistent throughout artist Sharyl Landis’ work. Primarily working with bead and fiber, Landis has experimented with technique and material throughout her career to create fantastical works using traditional materials alongside unconventional mediums like bone or toothbrush heads. A beloved artist in the community, Landis recently opened up her home and workspaces, revealing her practice through every object and story she shared. Filled with oddities and mementos collected from friends and family throughout her life, Landis’ diverse practice is unified by the omnipresence of the artist’s deep emotional connection to her loved ones and their art.

Nestled in midtown Tulsa, the Landis home is filled with warmth and color; the walls covered with the artist's past works and art from friends and family, as well as collections of rolled balls of cat hair, courtesy of her Mainecoon cat. In the backyard, an animal skull leers from the rafters of the shed in a plastic bag, “my mother had a trash can full of bones,” Landis recalls. As the exploration continues, it becomes clear that Landis’s parents are a constant artistic source— not only of inspiration, but of materials as well. In the studio, Landis pointed to several works in progress using these inherited supplies, including an elaborate embellished reclaimed traditional wooden mask, painted and embellished with beads from her mother’s collection which is set for an upcoming exhibition at the Oklahoma Equality Center. “When I was working on that mask, I went through my mother’s stuff, I just didn’t feel like my stuff had the right feeling [but I knew] her stuff did,” she said. 

Landis is an artistic mainstay in the region, supporting, teaching, and engaging in the arts community here for decades. Her work has always been delightful and dynamic, but exploring her space of creation reveals the sentiment and spirit behind her dynamic practice. Viewing the site of creative energy couches stories of tender memories and artifacts from the past. For Landis, her artistic and personal history are interwoven throughout this space. 

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