Tahlequah Daily Press

May 6, 2014

Brilliant mosaics a special art form for Sims

Special Writer

TAHLEQUAH — When Fran Sims entered a glass mosaic Cherokee star in the 2012 Cherokee National Holiday art show, it was a new medium for the event.

Since then, she’s been busy completing her master’s degree. Her final paper has been written and graduation is on the horizon, so she’s already back to one of her favorite pastimes: creating art.

Sims is a social worker with the Cherokee Nation, and she enjoys working with glass mostly as a medium, because she loves the look it produces.

She’s worked some with clay and painted some, and has enjoyed art all of her life. Good teachers get credit for her love of art.

“[I had] one in junior high, Ms. Cunningham; then high school, Mr. Brady; and Northeastern State University, with Mrs. Vandenbos,” she said. “All my art teachers were awesome.”

All her early school years were spent in Southern California, and then she moved back to Oklahoma and finished at Fort Gibson.

“My older brother, Carl Sims, was and is a great artist; he inspired me growing up,” she said.

Sims has a bachelor’s degree in social work and will soon have a masters in American studies.. She reflected on how she coped with the stress of being a returning student. The answer was art and friends.

“Starting back to school in 2010, a few friends and I started a small art group,” she said. “We would pick the month’s topic from a can where we had put in ideas, and another can of mediums to use. We probably did about 10 projects; it was a fun time.”

A desk in her home studio holds her latest project, the beginning of a mosaic spider. A flower mosaic sets above the spider to inspire her in creating. A couple of pottery turtles she made adorn the desk.

Paintings of a mermaid, a portrait she painted, and a collection of favorite art pieces painted and found, fill one wall in the studio. Right outside the studio room, a mosaic of dozens and dozens of birthday photographs hang on the wall. Next to the photograph mosaic is a wire and penny creation one of her grandchildren made. She takes it down to show it off, beaming with pride.

She has two grown children and three grandchildren, all of whom are talented and artistic people, Sims said.

The closest thing she has to a hobby is cooking. It also is an expression of love and creativity, she said.

“I make art because it is a great stress reliever and a good way to communicate,” Sims said. “[I like that it] goes along with a mood and becomes an outward manifestation of an idea or feeling I have. It is good for developing individuality and taking care of myself.”

Her art subjects usually reveal her Cherokee roots.

“I do love to intertwine Cherokee history with a modern edge,” she said.

Life and nature inspire Sims.

“What inspires me are many things I see every day living in beautiful Northeastern Oklahoma, and then making something meaningful, either drawn or painted, made with glass, clay any use of a particular medium, as an expression of an emotion,” she said.

The greater value of art on the broad scale is that it’s important because it is universal communication.

“I am not sure what art will tell the future about us, but I would like to have something of myself for my children and grandchildren,” she said.