Awards and Accolades for Robert Sherer
By Kevin McKenzie, KSU University Relations
An accident with sharp blade eight years ago led visual artist Robert Sherer to create edgy but important artwork with international appeal, recognized by two faculty awards in August 2006.
An associate professor of art in the Department of Visual Arts at Kennesaw State, Sherer received a KSU Foundation prize for his series of artworks titled “Blood Works: Portraits of Love and Loss in the Age of Aids,” and the 2006 Distinguished Scholarship Award for the same work.
Sherer said he was “stunned and caught completely off guard” by the recognition of his Blood Works, given both the materials he used and the sensitive nature of the subject he addressed.
The Blood Works were created using both Sherer’s own blood and that of friends, some of which was HIV-Positive. Sherer chose botanical illustrations for his theme because the inherent sexuality of plants and flowers, while beautiful, represented the vagaries and complexities of sexual attraction in the HIV era.
“The fundamental element of being a visual artist is that you make images you want to get out to the public, and it’s very difficult for people in the visual arts, like myself, to understand that art carries weight to it in a scholarly manner,” said Sherer.
According to Joseph D. Meeks, Dean of the College of the Arts, “Robert Sherer’s powerful visual commentary on the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic is an important example of the impact the arts can have on understanding the human condition, communicating across diverse audiences, and enhancing broader social discussions.”
Sherer’s Blood Works were exhibited in 2002 at the Triennale Internationale d'Art Contemporain in Paris, France. While this exhibition was one of the most important moments in his life, Sherer said, such experiences constantly inform his teaching at Kennesaw State.
“I’ve always been aware of my position as a role model for students and I am constantly bringing to my classes information about the complexities of running a full-blown art career,” he said.
“The KSU awards are definitely the pinnacle of my academic career,” said Sherer. “I functioned for15 years as an artist who got by with little pats on the back.”
Dean Meeks suggests that such modesty is outdated. “The university's recognition of his work signifies a growing awareness that the arts are integral to our understanding of ourselves and each other,” he said.