Bob Bennett, Sheri Zepplin and I all went to CU during the same period. Sheri married a successful attorney and eventually moved next to the Breckenridge ski area. While going through a divorce, she decided to build her own home next door to my home. The house was the topic of neighborhood discussions, since her approach and design were not conventional. She pushed for a petition for a change in setback covenants, designed the house herself, and closely supervised every stage of construction.
It’s the only contemporary stucco exterior I know of at 10,000 feet. The doors were all custom made, the stair baluster was hand-crafted, and the fireplace is actually a free-standing steel sculpture. Every room in the house had been well thought out before construction. She didn’t build a house, she created a piece of art. The house is as functional as beautiful. The determination for a single woman in the mountains to carry through with such a demanding project speaks a great deal about her character and stamina.
Her daughter became a close friend to Melissa (my daughter). Sheri was a photographer and understood what I was trying to accomplish with my documentary. Our visit proved to be quite interesting, and even when a water line broke, it didn’t dampen the interview. At first, Sheri thought deeply before responding slowly to each of my questions. As the interview progressed, she began internalizing more easily.
“What brought me here was a yearning when I was a child to live in the mountains, particularly the Rocky Mountains, since those were the mountains I was raised near. So, to go to the mountains, live here, experience my life here and share myself with my children, is what brought me here. I feel I can best experience myself and give myself, somehow on this plane, in whatever ways we feel important and those are all individual to our different personalities. I feel I can give the most in this atmosphere when I’m at a high-altitude atmosphere.
“Oh, I think probably the most of what I’ve given is just a love for the environment. And that would be probably a very personal kind of spiritual giving. I’ve never been too involved, as far as the community. I came here and established an art program for the elementary schools, which didn’t exist before I got here. And that was my kind of community giving. But of greater importance to me is a really personable and spiritual love for the land.
“It’s fall and everything is turning. This is my favorite time of the year. I used to think it was because of my birthday, so I’ve spent the last couple of weeks really delving into that. Is it because my birthday is always at the height of color or is it because something absolutely spectacular is happening and everything is changing? I think its fall. Spring here is not as spectacular as spring in other places because it’s so dull here.
“I am very, very introverted and often depressed in the fall. I’m terribly intense in the fall over the anticipation of winter. I find the fall to be a time for very heavy self-indulgence into who I am and what I’m doing here. I’m daily searching for those answers. It’s a relief when the snow comes and covers everything over; everything becomes more calm and peaceful.
“I think life up here has given to me great clarity in my life. Living here in Summit County daily is an experience of coming in contact with the outside, the physical world out there. That’s the benefit of being here for me. That’s what makes me work. That’s what makes me give. That’s what makes me euphoric. To come in touch with the physical environment is why I’m here. Of course I’ve built my home so that I could be extremely comfortable in indoor space. To include the environment and have contact with the environment is the drawing force.”
“Obviously, I don’t live in a tepee, but I spend a quite a bit of time outside. I think I would enjoy it even if I had to live outside. Every day, I’m out looking. Looking and touching whatever it is with my art. The base of my work now being photographic has possibly given me an excuse to come into more contact with it. Instead of saying, `I was sitting out in the woods today,’ I can say, `I was out in the woods today photographing, doing my art.’ So, it’s all one for me. It gives me almost a little excuse because that’s my contact. That’s the stimulation for me for life.
“Definitely, my contact to the environment is through my art. For me, it totally enhances my experience with the outdoors. It’s like finding a partner and dancing to music. My partner is my art and the outdoors is my life.
“Each day, I like to get up in the morning and watch the sun rise from inside my home. Its glass front is totally open to the outside or go out and experience sunlight. So I like to be out and watch the light. And then breakfast and the kids are off to school, now that everybody is a little older. They’re off and then I’m pretty much off and pursuing at this point, very much involved with pursuing imagery, since it’s fall and the snow hasn’t completely covered all the beautiful land coverings. So I spend most of my day, if it’s nice at all in terms of weather, seeking contact from that way. And working towards making images or maybe not, so experiencing wherever I am in one way or another. And then, come back by the time the kids come home from school and run to dance class or make dinner and, spend that time with them till they go to bed. Often, in the evening, if I can I take them out, too, so we can get the sunset. We always want to see the sunset from one place or another, from our home or so. So, I don’t like to get into the darkroom unless the weather is bad or it’s night time. During the mountain winter, there is a lot of good darkroom time! And I want to be ready for it with lots of images.
“I suppose if I could enhance my life here at this point it would be a financial basis because that seems to be a stickler at this point. I don’t want to go work and sell clothing at all. I would really like to devote myself solely to my experience here and to my art. To do that, I would need a little more financing, a little more backing.
“I think perhaps I would like to share my experience intimately with a partner, but that seems like it’ll just happen if it’s going to happen.”
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Sheri is now teaching photography classes at Colorado Mountain College. She has remarried to David Hiser, a National Geographic photographer and still lives in her home. Sheri now goes by her birth name of Anna Day, and her new married last name of Heiser. Sheri (Anna Day) and her husband plan to relocate to old Snowmass in the Roaring Fork Valley after her youngest leaves home for college.