Wayward GardenShari Mae Tuska (1959)




Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 53204, United States


2011 to present

Visiting Information

This environment is a private residence and is not open to the public at this time. People interested in visiting may contact SPACES at info@spacesarchives.org; requests will be passed to Tuska. 

About the Artist/Site

Shari Mae Tuska (b. 1959) began creating large embellished concrete sculptures for her yard and the interior of her Milwaukee home in 2011. Primarily representations of women from antiquity, she refers to these sculptures as “her girls” or "muses." These pieces are formed at the intersection of her curiosity, imagination, her power of belief, and her openness to experiences traversing other worlds. 

She credits her earliest influences as a child walking in Grant Park with her grandfather and siblings where he would tell them stories of fairies and elves. His stories also redefined the traditional definition of ownership as he told them that they owned the park, and they believed him. Her favorite story of his was that she owned the candy company that made the crackly cellophane packets of sweet-and-sour candies called "Shari's Candies," exposing her to the nontraditional bliss of ownership. Her grandparents’ home was known as the “The Gingerbread House" and was where her grandmother created magic in the kitchen. Having her imagination engaged and exercised at such an early age and in such a loving way was empowering and created a life-saving, solid foundation.

In her late teens, Shari developed a compulsion to comb the beach, accumulating shoeboxes of sea glass with no vision of how it would be used – until she saw the work of Antoni Gaudi on a book cover outside the Pompidou Museum in Paris. Her world stopped, and at the same time, began spinning in a new intoxicating and otherworldly direction. Once back home, she began her first sculpture, a daybed titled "A Lesson with Gaudi." Shari is self-taught, but it was in this process and right in her backyard that she entered a world of collaboration with an unknown other. 

She began to plan annual trips, each destination guided by what she refers to as “hits.” These hits begin with either a place or a person – mainly women. Her subjects are found online, in history or folklore books, with the help of librarians, and even a student's thesis. She describes her planning process as serendipitously collaborative. Traveling to the country of origin to seek out more information, Shari is dependent on her own intuitive guidance. Each trip strengthens and sharpens her trust in her own intuition, which adds greater vision to her process. The creation of each sculpture is a lesson for the next one.

Each of her girls have their own story. For those who were oppressed, she felt the need to bring them back to give them new standing. Some retain their strength and act as guardians of the others. The sculptures are anchored below the frost line and made from rebar, galvanized metal straps, metal lath, cement, and mortar. They are dressed with found objects, sea glass, ceramic, barricade flashers, brake lights, pebbles, stones, tiles, tesserae, and terrazzo all found on various beaches both locally and overseas. All her girls are well-grounded and solid. In addition to the outdoor sculptures, Shari has begun adding sculptures and mosaics to the interior of her home, working primarily inside throughout Wisconsin’s harsh winters. 

Tuska describes her process as the following: 

  • Uses body measurements as a guide for sculpture size
  • Digs post hole below the frost line; inserts rebar to anticipated height; 3-4 day cure
  • Uses additional rebar to create sculpture structure
  • Creates arms using galvanized strong ties wrapped with cut strips of metal lath; mortal fill
  • Works from bottom to top creating body form out of metal lath and fill with cement working 1'-2' at a time 
  • Uses various gauges of wire to both tie and sew lath into body forms
  • Adheres mosaic pieces with mortar
  • Sews on facial structure using pinched metal lath pieces
  • Completes face last, using mortar

Shari continues to live and work in her environment. It is not open to the public at this time; however, you may contact SPACES at info@spacesarchives.org if you'd like to visit. Requests will be passed along to Tuska for review. 

Narrative by Shari Mae Tuska, 2022.



rebar, galvanized metal straps, metal lath, cement, found objects, sea glass, ceramic, barricade flashers, brake lights, pebbles, stones, tiles, tesserae, and terrazzo

Map & Site Information

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 53204 us
Latitude/Longitude: 43.0153807 / -87.9285777

Nearby Environments

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Ellen C Warren March 24, 2022

Thank you for the glimpse into Shari's creative process of brewing inner and outer magic into her earthy, dynamic, exquisite works. There are more things in heaven and earth....

Nanco March 23, 2022

This woman’s talent is beyond awesome!!

Carri Skoczek March 22, 2022

Brava!! That's my sister❤