Sheri / Dragon

Lehrer, Riva

Primary Category: Visual Arts / Painting/Drawing

Genre: Drawing

Annotated by:
Lam, MD, Gretl
  • Date of entry: May-05-2016


A woman drawn in charcoal crouches tensely on all fours, arms wide as if proudly claiming territory, but with one hand raised in hesitation. Her legs are strong, and her breasts are exposed animalistically. But the viewer’s eyes are drawn to her face, which looks sad and weary.

A green dragon is super-imposed onto the body of the woman. It glares at the audience, snarling toothily with a red open mouth. Its head is raised proudly, and its wings are spread defiantly. It is ready to attack. But the dragon looks partly mechanical, and it fits onto the woman like a costume, with her head, chest, arms, and legs exposed. It is armor that simultaneously protects yet burdens her.


Sheri / Dragon” is part of artist Riva Lehrer’s Mirror Shards series. In this series, she explores some of the many similes and metaphors that reference animals – such as the simile “timid as a deer.” By doing so, Lehrer seeks to emphasize that the human ability to imagine ourselves in the place of an animal is the same ability that allows us to feel empathy for others.

In this particular painting, the author references similes such as “proud/fierce/strong/powerful as a dragon” in the context of a portrait of Sheri Rush. Lehrer explains that Sheri Rush is a Chicago-based painter who deals with personal challenges through “a stubborn, focused determination.”

The woman in the portrait is clearly facing difficulties given the weariness and sadness in her expression, and the dragon armor rears fiercely over her, ready to help the woman fight each challenge. But the armor is also frightening and dangerous, and the woman stands alone for a reason. Through this composite artwork, Lehrer illustrates how pride and stubbornness can help individuals overcome personal difficulties, but sometimes at the cost of isolating the wearer, and hurting those closest to them. 


Charcoal, mixed media, collage, papers, metal, and watch parts on board.