Artist Statements | 13th Annual Juried Show

Gabriela HirtGabriela Hirt – Victoria BC
Raised in post-war Germany in the wake of the Holocaust, Gabriela forges mixed media paintings that alloy personal family trauma with collective guilt. Posing abstract human figures in fluid proximity, she choreographs dark drama and subliminal tension. “Since immigrating 25 years ago I have been aware of a split in my sense of belonging both painful and enriching. To no longer be completely rooted in one culture can be lonely at times – but also liberating. Baggage questions whether freedom from social and familial constraints can come from physical relocation alone.”

Damien JamesDamien James – Chicago IL
My work is concerned with liberation of the oppressed in this country, from the Indigenous peoples remaining after the near-extinction delivered by Columbus, Pizarro, and Cortes, to the kidnapped African slaves who literally built our nation. The Black Lives Matter movement is simply the current face of a civil rights struggle that began the moment this country was “discovered.” My public work seeks to bridge the extreme disconnect between our history and our origin myth – nudging the indifferent to see the struggle in more human terms.

Erinn KathrynErinn Kathryn – Portland OR
In 2018, I attended a research residency in the American Southwest. We learned from local tribal leaders, activists, ecologists and writers of the hardships and histories of these lands: the exploitation and destruction of sacred sites and ecosystems, the ongoing oppression of Indigenous communities, and the enduring secrecy of environmental and human impacts of nuclear waste and mining practices. These works, from the greater series Lands of Enchantment, emerged from this expedition. They challenge the ubiquitous Kodachrome mirages of mid-century America, exposing underlying truths about colonized landscapes held in esteem.

Rebecca KeyesRebecca Keyes – Montecito CA
My work is an examination of activism in history, exploring the relationship between past and present-day social and political issues of racism, women’s rights, migration, pollution, and native peoples’ rights. My current practice centers on mixed-media portraits of key human rights historical figures. “Sitting Bull” is constructed using more than 10,000 black pins overlaid on a reproduction of the 1851 Treaty map of Sioux territory in North Dakota. The work champions the Indigenous Sovereignty of native peoples and against government-sponsored oppression.

Matilda KimMatilda Kim – Oak Harbor WA
There’s a door that won’t open. I was once an absolute human being, but I’m still not getting enlightenment. I can’t let go of my greed and obsession. Not long ago, the line between life and death collapsed. The world is changing again, but I’m trying my best to not be swayed. I was surprised by the sounds of the sirens, but I saw the sky, the clouds, and the stars. You taste with your mouth and hold your breath when it smells. I have regret, but I’m preparing for the future. It’s because I still have a heart.

Jan KnightJan Knight – Vancouver WA
After reading the Dawn of Everything, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, Starry Messenger, the Divider, White Evangelical Racism and Lady Justice, I worked on this piece, finishing in November 2022. The flag was painted with acrylics and the dollar bill is drawn with colored pencil and pastels. The windows of the protestors’ griefs are scattered over the image. The conflict of power of the purse vs. democracy and laws are two of the many competing struggles in America.

Joanie KrugJoanie Krug – Portland OR
Joanie Krug is attracted to the unexpected, random events that occur to us on a daily basis. Her work embraces the turnarounds in life that invite us to land in a new space. Working in both charcoal and oils, she has predominantly focused on women in expressive emotional and social moments. The spontaneity of gesture fuels the spirit of her imagery. Her painting, “fragile descent”, portrays the sense of freedom and choice as the figure moves through space. Navigating the uneven and tenuous terrain presents a challenge – a challenge infused with a spirit of liberation.

Abby LazerowAbby Lazerow – Ashland OR
I have been exploring social issues in my work to bear witness to the systemic violence, marginalization and disenfranchisement that has been polarizing our nation. “Domestic Terror” and “Do What You are Told” consider the turbulent interactions between increasingly militaristic police and protestors, while “Boundary” examines the struggles of people fleeing brutality and poverty, risking everything to cross borders in search of a better life.

Garima NarediGarima Naredi – Sammamish WA
Garima Naredi is a Seattle-based artist working primarily in oil paints, charcoal and mixed media 2D art. Her work is rooted in realism and storytelling. She explores themes of symbolism and everyday life in a range of subject matter from still life and figures to landscapes and interiors. “Road Less Traveled” is based on a poem I wrote about finding one’s own path and walking it. Freeing ourselves from the limitations of our own thoughts, we become a warrior ready to embark on a journey not taken by many.

Kristin Powers NowlinKristin Powers Nowlin – Manhattan KS
This work appropriates images used in popular ephemera of the 1900s, such as travel brochures and print advertisements. The idealized images are modified or expanded, while new figures are drawn from photographs of peaceful protests. The contrast between the idyllic background scene and the precarious positions of the inserted figures disturbs the sentimental backdrop and reminds us of our right to peacefully protest to protect our liberty and sovereignty. The woodblock prints further critique the underlying nostalgia through ironic titles partly or entirely borrowed from the commercial sources.

Gang (Grant) PengGang (Grant) Peng – Fremont CA
Peng’s adolescence coincided with the Chinese Cultural Revolution, during which Mao shut down China’s education system. He rebelled against government-sanctioned, pro-Communist paintings. By the 1970s, he was running with a wild group of young poets, painters, and political activists. They held underground, politically dangerous exhibitions, the first of their kind in Beijing. “We were united by the conviction that art could be more than propaganda. I strive now, as I did half a century ago in Maoist China, to reflect social and political phenomena in painting”.

GirlspitGirlspit- Seattle WA
GirlSpit created her name by combining the identity of a fictitious NYC Graffiti Artist (Spit) and the sexism within Graffiti Culture — combating Male Dominance with the addition of Girl. The juxtaposition of the stereotype of sweetness, Girl. Against the severity of an action, Spit. Generally, in street art, the stencil is used to create a new piece of art but in this case, the stencil IS the piece of art. Every piece is created by hand. GirlSpit chose Cannabis for the “Sovereignty and Liberation” Show to celebrate new freedom to use the plant as medicine, legally.

Bryan StryeskiBryan Stryeski – Tacoma WA
Making a visionary drawing is a form of liberation. The creator retains ultimate authority and control, a balance of intuition and intention is harnessed, imagination is ignited, ideas become realized and, ultimately, a new world of endless possibilities comes to life. The maker becomes the ruler- even for just a moment, as they become lost in the creation of their own universe. This approach embraces a certain level of unpredictability. Taking risk is, itself, a form of freedom.

Mitchell Villa Mitchell Villa – Duncan BC, Canada
In “Banquet”, I explore the theme of Sovereignty & Liberation by showing women, in a formal setting, defying expectations. Vibrant palette and energetic brushstrokes capture the excess and madness of the evening – emphasizing celebration of freedom and agency. The women are powerful and unapologetic, breaking free from constraints of societal norms and expectations. Embracing one’s true self can result in liberation, is it not so?

Silvia WagensbergSilvia Wagensberg- Venice CA
This painting is part of a larger series entitled “From Where The Sun Now Stands I Will Fight No More Forever”, a phrase taken from an 1877 speech by Chief Joseph of the Nez Percé tribe. I explore, through fictionalized tableaus, the removal of indigenous peoples from the Northern Wyoming landscape. By using portraiture, I hope to question notions of memory and gestalt, while playing with contradictory ideas of age, size, accuracy, and oil paint to comment on current hegemonies and the complexities of our expansionist roots.