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Poetry, dreams, and other things

Yvonne Boose

An Aurora graphic designer intersects creative avenues to balance her financial and spiritual needs.

Cherylyn Gnadt calls herself a creative entrepreneur. She’s a graphic designer, artist and poet.

“I'm a designer because it fills my pocketbook. And I'm an artist because it fills my soul,” she said.

Gnadt has collected many tools to help intertwine artforms. She attended the American Academy of Art. Her personal creations were the focus for her education but then she said she realized she also needed a way to make money, so she started to take design classes. She also attended Elmhurst College where she learned printmaking.

Like many writers, Gnadt started writing poetry when she was a child. Even so, she never thought of herself as a writer. But she said she realized that most of her images come from a string of words that she wrote down in one of her many notebooks, one of which she’s had for over 30 years.

“And then I don't necessarily go back into my notebooks until at least a month later, or sometimes years later,” she explained. “And realize that honestly, what I did then in the studio that month, or that year, really did relate to what I wrote about. So, it's like, kind of like unconsciously pairing them together.”

Yvonne Boose

Gnadt holds up her piece “Light Shines Through It.” This art is on rice paper. One side was drawn and the other side has the same image but painted. That side also has typed phrases scattered throughout. Gnadt said once the image was done, she realized she had a poem that matched the image.

“I already wrote about what this girl is doing,” she said. “And what she's doing is walking through a forest. In her hands, she's like cradling this little nest with three little eggs. And she's kind of like holding it gingerly and just like kind of gingerly walking through like an unknown path.”

Gnadt said a lot of her art is about universal truths and that the path that always seems the easiest may not be the path a person is supposed to be on.

“And even as the path is falling apart of ahead of you, you find another path that might not be as easy, but it remains true. And maybe it's not as glimmery and not as glitzy, but it’s your path.”

Gnadt also does found poetry. This artform is comprised of text borrowed from different sources. Gnadt’s piece was from a book.

“And what I do is —I just start circling the words that are coming and floating to the surface to me. And then I blacked out everything else,” she said. “And then somehow it starts becoming like strings of words.”

Yvonne Boose

Gnadt explained that her creative process may be different from some. She uses the early part of the day to write based on what the universe gives to her because she said that's when she is the most lucid. Then her writing turns to the business aspect of things. She helps other artists promote their work as well as creating things for nonprofit organizations.

“I'm writing ads for a bank for the East Coast,” she said. “So, I'm doing things that are much more -- It’s cognitive, but it's not necessarily cerebral,” she explained. “Like, it's not necessarily me, like pulling down from wherever.”

And the “wherever” that comes to her could mean the universe or even from her own dreams. Gnadt journals all her dreams and suggests this could be a good practice for other creatives.

She pointed to a picture that came from one of those visions. The piece is called “Feathered Forest.” She described a dream where she saw a woman walking through a featured archway like a cathedral entrance.

“And she doesn't know where she's walking, but she just keeps on walking anyways,” she said. “And so that's actually one of the things that kind of comes up a lot in my life.”

In 2015, Gnadt found herself flooded with the waves of life. Her marriage of 16 years had ended. She said she sought the help of therapists, but they didn’t help. It was poetry that helped her get through this time.

Gnadt said she shared her poetry for the first time two years ago. A listener told her they could relate.

“Someone said to me, like, ‘Oh my gosh, I feel that too.' And I think that's what it is. It's like how you can connect with someone else and not necessarily have the same experience but have an emotional tie to someone.”

Gnadt has an upcoming exhibit called “Lofty Ideas” coming up this May and June at the Bartlett Village Hall 2nd floor gallery. Those interested in Gnadt’s work can keep up with this artist by following her on Instagram.

  • Yvonne Boose is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.