For years, my husband and I dreamed of moving to Oregon after we graduated from college. We pinned a map of Oregon from an old National Geographic to our bedroom wall, and blindly picked the town (Tillamook) one evening in a pin-the-tail-on- the-donkey sort of way. We spent so many days and nights daydreaming about our future life in the PNW, but graduation actually came and went. We let outside influences—primarily our loved ones and conventional notions of “practicality”—impede our plans.
Over the next five years we wound ourselves through the serpentine travails of “real-world” rationale, making our unrealized dream seem impossible. (We also consoled ourselves by eating way too much Tillamook cheese and ice cream.) I flitted hither and thither in the “real-world” job market, trying my hat at various occupations, from animal behavioral scientist, medical receptionist, and retail manager. Each passing year took a deeper toll on my psyche. All I really wanted to do was sit in a room and “color,” I once confided to a friend. I didn’t know such a thing were possible (read socially accepted) without having to be institutionalized.
By slogging through the daily banality of corporate life, (imagine ‘Office Space’), my husband was eventually offered a position in Washington State, which we accepted because it promised us, if nothing else, a sliver of our dream. We loaded the car and one shipping crate, said our goodbyes and made our trek from Austin to Seattle. But Seattle was…well…Seattle. A beautiful part of the country, but it had its own psychic pain and stymieing ways. More importantly it just wasn’t Oregon. (Sorry, Seattle—it’s not you, it’s me). Once again, I found myself job-hopping and sinking into depression.
And then my husband’s position transplanted us to Portland, Oregon. In 2012, I was given the opportunity to quit my day job and “find myself.” I started by pointing my camera all over the city, searching for muses. The dive into this newfangled world and practice filled me with inspiration. I went on like this for a few years before finally admitting to myself that I am and always have been an artist (thanks Julia Cameron and Elle Luna). That moment of self-admission launched me headlong into rigorous study and creative exploration, which has helped me find my artistic voice.
Professionally, I am best known for large-scale, abstract mixed media works that bridge the divide between analog/traditional medium and digital/new media. But as this year draws to a close, nostalgia has inspired me to pay tribute to the part of Portland that called me out of my listlessness and nurtured the artist within. This new, limited-edition series is my visual love letter to the city that made us. Each piece represents a part of the city or surrounding area that holds tender space in our hearts. My husband Alex partnered with me on this project by painstakingly constructing custom floating frames out of hemlock, a wood native to this region.
Our hope is that you will share in our journey, hang a piece of our realized dream in your home and perhaps even enjoy it with a nice bowl of Tillamook Ice Cream.