We had the good fortune of connecting with Cheryl Maeder and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cheryl, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
In my early twenties, I moved to Switzerland. While there, a friend lent me his camera, and I began to photograph. Another friend gave me their darkroom equipment and that was it. I basically fell in love with photography and worked day and night shooting and then playing in the darkroom till all hours. I remember after the first image I printed in the darkroom, I came out of the room and declared to myself and those around me, that no matter what, being a professional photographer and artist is what I want to do with my life. I then went to Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland and studied photography. I came back to the States and eventually opened my studio in San Francisco. In 2005, I came to the Miami area and immersed myself into the world of fine art and filmmaking. I have never stopped since. Art has never been a hobby, it is who I am.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
The core of my work is about connection; the innate connection to the self, each other, and to all other life forms on this planet. I work from the inside/out, therefore my style is very fluid and changes as I grow and move forward. I have always been concerned with breaking through stereotypes both in myself and in my work. My photography work was the inspiration for the Dove Campaign, Real Women, Real Beauty, which transformed the way women are viewed in the global media today. My work is in private & corporate collections in US & internationally. My photographs & video installations are in permanent museum collections-Frost Museum/Miami & exhibited internationally-The Louvre Museum/Paris & Museum of Contemporary Art/Rome. The Voyage, video installation, has recently been installed at the Montefiore Medical Center, New Rochelle, New York in their permanent collection. Several of my video installations were in a public art platform with Miami New Media Film Festival, curated thesis on Water & Climate Change, exhibiting in Miami, South America & Europe. I was also selected by PBS for Project Filmmaker, where my film PLAY was televised nationally on PBS Television, funded by The National Endowment For The Arts. As well as being, a fine art photographer & video installation artist, I am also involved in product design. I have designed a signature collection of home decor: Gardenhouse. I have also created GardenWalls, nature-inspired wall coverings, where I photograph elements in nature, such as trees, water, sand grass, wood grain; and incorporate these elements into the designs. GardenWalls were featured in Hospitality Design, HGTV and Cottage & Gardens Magazine and have been installed at the Hilton Garden Inn in New York. I was also featured in Luxe Magazine as a Style Maker. Everyone if they are honest has struggles. Life can be a rollercoaster. Being an Artist is not an easy path. Not only do we create the art, but we have to get it out there and market it. That is a lot of work, unless you have a trust fund. I have always worked hard as a professional artist. Yes, there are days that I question what I am doing, but the truth is being an Artist is who I am. I am very happy that I chose this path. I experience fear just like everyone else on this planet. I am conscious of fear, acknowledge it, but will keep moving forward and I never let fear stop me from my work and living my life. Struggle can be a good thing, it is a part of our human growth and creativity.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Before the days of Covid, especially if they happened to come in December. I would take them to Miami and to all the incredible art fairs that are in the city during that time such as Art Miami, Art Basel, Untitled and Scope Art Fairs. I would take them to all the great beaches along the southeast coast of Florida. I would also take them to the gorgeous natural springs that are in Central Florida such as Kelly Park, Rock Springs. We would also go to Key West and Islamorada. I would also take them to the beautiful forests and natural parks that are here in Florida.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are three people who have helped me greatly. My husband, Gary Antonio, also an Artist, an Abstract Painter; his support, love and encouragement has helped to expand my art and business. During the months of the pandemic, I have been working on my new series of photographs and video installation, Super Natural. Filming in the forests, lakes and ocean, Gary has been my collaborator on this project. My friend, Rhoni Epstein, who was my agent/rep for nine years while my studio was in San Francisco. Rhoni and I have remained best friends throughout my career. She is now a business coach, and her mentorship has helped to create an expansion in my creativity. Also Mary Tidy-Coyle who I have been working with for several years. Mary is an innovative, conceptual artist, as well as a professor of art. Our collaborations have been so enrichening and transformative.
Photo of Cheryl Maeder in Red Jacket at beach: Photo by Serena Carton of R2HModern