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Cheryl Wassenaar



Cheryl Wassenaar is a visual artist who investigates language as a system of meaning that is dependent upon arrangement and context. Her latest body of work uses sign maker’s vinyl alongside manipulated objects, sound, and video to activate environments in site-specific installations, often collaborating with a writer or poet. Wassenaar’s object-based pieces work with found commercial signage, repurposing the discarded wood into visual metaphors of failed communication that borrow from the language of modernist painting, contemporary advertising, and technology. Merging aspects of graphic design, painting, and sculpture, the work evokes visual stutters of sounds, ideas, and data.

Wassenaar earned her BFA from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and her MFA from the University of Cincinnati. Her corporate commissions include Camden Real Estate headquarters in Houston, Fidelity Investments in Boston, and the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids. Wassenaar primarily teaches courses in foundational design, color and culture, and methodology in the undergraduate and graduate College of Art. She is currently represented by LongView Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Personal website

Work by Cheryl Wassenaar

Installation view of a gallery space: in the foreground, a chair next to a video on a screen in a white platform/box, with stacks of newspapers surrounding this all. In the background, wires from exposed machinery and other artworks mounted to the wall. The walls are white with some text running along it in a typewriter font. The floors are wooden.

The Cabinet of Ordinary Affairs, installation view of a multi-media collaborative exhibition with Stephanie Schlaifer, 2018

Front: Waiting Room of the Interior. Materials include cut vinyl lettering (on walls), stacks of newspapers, painted office furniture, coffee table with embedded video broadcast from the Press Secretary of the Interior. Des Lee Gallery, St.Louis, MO. Image by R. Sprengeler.
Installation view of a gallery space: yellow tubing hangs from the ceiling, suspended by white wires/cords, and connect to sockets where they plug into the wall. The walls are a deep ultramarine blue, with text of various colors (different shades of blue, teal, and white) tiled across. The walls to the left and right are white, and the floors are wooden.

When the Eye Saw It Appeared, 2014

Cut vinyl, twin metal bedframe, egg-encrusted tea cups, electrical conduit. Detail from Cleavemark Dr, a multi-media collaborative exhibition with Stephanie Schlaifer, Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts, St. Louis, MO. Photo credit D. Johnson.
Installation on a white wall: long, thin white panels are tiled to form a geometric cloud-like shape; some of their surfaces are printed with slightly offset text, set in a light all-caps sans serif font.

You Call It A Cloud: Ascent, 2019

Wooden signboard, metallic vinyl 22 x 4.5’, with language fragments from S. Schlaifer’s Cloud Series. A site-specific piece in the Wayfinding exhibition at St. Louis Lambert International Airport. Image by B. Page.
Installation view of a gallery space: on white walls several works are mounted; these art pieces are geometric sculptures, the surfaces of which are adorned with collaged/manipulated typography. In the center of this space to the right is a column/sculpture, with bold stenciled lettering.

Syntaxexhibition, 2016

Installation view. Work constructed from found commercial signage. Bradley University, IL.
White furniture protruding at various angles from a white wall; it seems as though they spiral, caught in a swirling vortex. A wooden worktable with a vise is in front of the wall, with bits and pieces of metal/small tools and a leather belt.

Ode to W. Haldane (Pearl + Ottawa), 2016

Wooden furniture, 1930’s industrial workbench, grandfather’s tool belt, father’s vise. 16 x 16 x 8’ Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids, MI.
Wassenaa, cheryl image 3 2023

Not Yet (from the "Series of Wayward Signs"), 2022

65 x 120 x 7" signboard, vinyl 2022. Spiva, Gallery, from “Wayfinding II” exhibition, Missouri Southern State University, Joplin, MO
Wassenaa,cheryl image 1 2023

Air to Air exhibition, 2021

installation view. Left: Manipulated newspaper covers, 6 digital prints on aluminum, 2021, 14 x 10.5” each. Right: This Equation is Known as “Error” Vinyl wall installation, 14 x 9.5’ Original text on GLCM Guidance System submitted by Colonel (Ret) George Grill (1970), Air Force Missileers. Schmidt Gallery, Principia College, Elsah IL