Giving Tuesday Artist’s Spotlight
Published: November 29, 2021
Giving Tuesday is a global day of generosity. This Giving Tuesday we’re celebrating Artist Trust Members, a thriving community of artists and arts supporters! We’ll be sharing stories from three long-time Artist Trust members: Esther Ervin, Shirley Scheier, and Patti Warashina!
We spoke with them about their history with Artist Trust, what has inspired them and given them hope this year, and why they’ve supported Artist Trust over the years. Become a member today and support Washington State artists here: https://artisttrust.org/become-a-member/
I grew up in Somerville, New Jersey, around the corner from a sheep ranch. Both parents supported my early interest in art and science.
After obtaining a BS in biology, I became a Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia, teaching art and science at a rural school, and later working with families of coffee growers. Inspired by drawing for our Health Handbook and for a Bogotá cardiologist, I decided to seriously study art and earned an MFA in illustration.
I continuously explore new techniques and enjoy working in various mediums, focusing on environment, politics, or abstraction. More recent works include glass panels; concrete, tile, and wood benches; and cast bronze salmon for the Liberty Bank Building. In 2021, my 7’ steel panel, “Cowrie Cloth” was installed at the Jackson Street Apartments.
Presently, I am in the midst of a residency at Amazon’s Doppler building, working on a project addressing gun violence.
I am a member of Artist Trust, Seattle Metals Guild, Garfield Superblock Coalition. and exhibit at the Onyx Gallery in Pacific Place. I avidly explore Art Jewelry Forum and Klimt02, a Barcelona-based jewelry forum.
My first encounter with Artist Trust was probably in 2007 as a participant in the 8 week Artist Edge Program.
I support Artist Trust, as well as I am able, because it directly supports my fellow artists and offers us tools, guidance, and resources. In addition, it provides a unique opportunity to showcase our work at its Annual Gala and meet people who care about and support the arts. I encourage my fellow artists to join and support AT and our other local arts organizations. They each provide unique services to the artistic community.
Right now, in the midst of the Covid pandemic, loss of income opportunities, climate change-related environmental stress, gun violence, and an increasingly racialized society; it is extremely important to support individual artists who have been adversely affected by these factors or who artistically engage audiences in considering or coping with these pressing issues.
The increased availability of constructive engagement for artists due to Covid and community response to the murder of George Floyd has given me hope that individuals and institutions will continue to recognize the value we provide. Further, it has inspired me to challenge myself artistically by working with some of my materials on a larger scale. For example, I am creating a 3’ x 4’ steel wire curtain that addresses the issue of gun violence, whereas my previous metal works have been 9” and under.
Shirley Scheier is a lifelong printmaker, painter, and environmentalist. She has traveled extensively and benefitted over the past 35 years from residencies in Paris, Rome, at the MacDowell Colony, the Espy Foundation, Peacock Printmakers Workshop in Scotland, and the New York Feminist Art Institute. Her paintings and etchings are in numerous public and private collections including the Microsoft Collection, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Portland Art Museum, OR, and the City of Seattle Portable Art Collection. University of Washington-Seattle Painting, Printmaking, and Drawing Division’s national search brought Shirley from the mid-west for a tenure track faculty position in 1986. Shirley’s printmaking and artist-hand-made books were the medium to express her early narrative and figurative work. As her printmaking advanced into sequential progressive printmaking, it informed the organic abstract landscape work of the past twenty years. Today she lives and works on the Olympic Peninsula.
Artist Trust has grown with the expanding community of Washington State artists. Over the decades, I have been jazzed by watching the waves of younger generations explode on the shores adding vitality to the larger creative PNW culture. I appreciate learning of other artists’ work through galleries and arts organizations. This dialogue that develops is a significant foundation for a strong creative practice. Artist Trust acts as one of the main conduits of communication between artists.
We all have moments when we are struck with specific powerful awareness. One of mine was when I was on a sailboat in the Strait of Juan de Fuca looking at the infinite cycle of water. Clouds move toward the Cascades to add moisture to the mountains, glacier melt feeding the rivers, water flowing into the Sound, tides pulling water back out to the ocean, and all that water once again returning. I am aware of my genetic bond with nature, forces beyond our control, an interconnectedness. I am drawn to nature’s organic life lessons of birth, growth, transformation, decay. Land and sea, the forest and gardens, this is where I own my own body, name my agency and know inner freedom. The specific awareness of 2002 set off the past 20 years’ ecofeminist landscape work.
My work is personal, and a shared human endeavor, and the personal can be provocative, even powerful. My somatic and sensorial experiences within nature and my willingness to transcribe through painting connects with writing by John Muir, Mary Oliver, Robin Wall Kimmerer, and many other nature writers. Marine biologist Rachael Carson’s statement “It is not half so important to know as to feel” points to the understanding that painting, music, literature, and the arts as life-sustaining forces for humanity. Sharing the work is a connection with those searching avoiding ignoring a much deeper and fascinating human interconnectedness with our ecosystem.
Born in Spokane, Washington in 1940, Patti Warashina earned art degrees from the University of Washington in 1962 and 1964. After teaching for 30 years, she retired as Professor Emerita from the UW in 1995. She is a recipient of the following awards: 2020 Smithsonian Visionary Artist Award; 2018 United States Artists Fellowship; American Craft Council Fellow; Twining Humber Lifetime Achievement Award; UW Distinguished Alumnus Award; the Washington Governor’s Award of Special Commendation for the Arts; and three NEA grants. Her work is included in such public collections as: Seattle and Tacoma Art Museums; Smithsonian Renwick Gallery; Museum of Art and Design; Everson Museum of Art; LA County Museum of Art; Kyoto National Museum of Modern Art; and Art Gallery of Western Australia. In 2012 and 2013, Warashina had two 50-year retrospective exhibitions at AMOCA (Pomona, CA) and Bellevue Art Museum (Bellevue, WA), with a biographical book, Wit and Wisdom, about her life’s work.
Artist Trust first came to my attention as a mid-career artist, as an organization that helped support Washington State artists of all media, which was unusual at that time. Funding for artists can be difficult to obtain in general, so it filled a void that was very much needed in the State of Washington. In 2002, as a mature female artist, I was honored to receive the Twining Humber Award from Artist Trust. This award was particularly poignant for me as a female artist since, in the past, this type of honor was typically reserved for male artists and not in “alternative media” such as ceramics. This recognition by Artist Trust operation gave me the confidence that my work was received by a wider audience than I had thought. Because organizations that support the arts are truly needed in our community, that is why I support Artist Trust.
Artist Trust supported me not only by awarding me the Twining Humber Award but also with a GAP Grant that would have made it possible to show in an overseas exhibition. Also, I know that Artist Trust is an organization that I can turn to when I need any aspect of artist-related advice.
Being an artist in a studio who literally thrives on isolation, the pandemic gave me some outrageous subject matter to think about, and literally the time to work out and execute my ideas in the studio.
Artists have traditionally been underfunded, and especially during this pandemic time, artists have particularly struggled because sales outlets and venues have been shut down or scaled back. Therefore the support for the arts has suffered. Artist Trust’s important steadfast assistance for artists is all the more needed and welcomed especially at this particular time.