His current show at Nicelle Beauchene, “IS,” speaks to the essential Zen Buddhism practice of being present. Sherman attributes much of his inspiration to this practice, which was central to much his training in ceramics. “Up until recently, I never signed my work, which came from a more Buddhist idea of people working together and not being attached; being honorable to the work and letting go in a certain way.”
He likens the recent works, which are largely driven by impulse, to the 1960s children’s game PlayPlax, for which colored perspex squares can be assembled to build vibrant structures. Sherman’s pieces are primarily made from slabs of clay that he cuts, stacks, makes into tubes, and combines to form people and mythical creatures. Some resemble dollhouses, inhabited by tiny figures, body parts, ladders, and potted plants—some even hold real, miniature cacti.
He experiments with countless glazes, dousing his figures in myriad popping colors and delectable textures, from deep blue and green tie-dye-like finishes to sprays of speckles and translucent, pastel-colored hues.
Eyes and hands are particularly frequent among his figurative sculptures. “The eye has a lot to do with being aware of oneself and seeing; I’m hoping to tell a story visually rather than be didactic,” he says. He gestures to a figure with a tiny pair of eyeglasses and a cap covered in eyes, a sculpture he describes as a scholar, deep in thought. The hands, he says, stress the importance of prayer. “Working in clay is almost like a way of praying.”