Spring Campaign 2022 Featuring: Crista Ames

Published: June 7, 2022

Categories: Featured | Spring Campaign

This Spring, we’re raising $65,000 for Washington State artists! Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have raised and distributed over $1.4 million to hundreds of Washington State artists, and reached thousands more through programming and resources. Your gift today, in any amount, will help us continue to provide critical support and resources for artists. Help us reach our goal and make your gift before June 30!  

As part of our Spring Fundraising Campaign, we are interviewing Washington State artists about the ways they have embraced change during the pandemic and what support from Artist Trust has meant for them. This week, we spoke with Kittitas County visual artist and 2022 Fellowship Award recipient, Crista Ann Ames about her life-size sculptures and reclaiming and reimagining the feminine body through her art. Crista shared, As a teaching artist, I also hope for more equitable art experiences for all, in particular, providing an education in the arts for our rural communities.” 


Read her full interview below! 



Tell us a little about your work/artistic practice. 

   I make life size and larger than life size human figures and animals out of ceramic. By using human and animal figures and depicting moments from my personal narrative symbolically, I am using my story as a tool to illustrate the fragile and complicated nature of life and humanity while investigating the gap between myth and experience. I also make art as an act of social justice, in helping shape a social consciousness. When people look at and understand a piece of artwork someone feels seen. They might recognize themes I’m presenting and are more likely to be an advocate for the issues I am bearing witness to. 


What have the last two years been like for you and your artistic practice? How have you and/or your work changed in the pandemic?  

Like most of us, the last two years have been about shifting. In 2019 I lost access to my studio for two months. I had no place to make so I started building a studio at my home and purchased my own kiln with the help of a fellowship. Since then, I have been working in my studio and have refocused toward making a body of work that centers around women’s rights.  

 I am also a teaching artist, dedicated to providing equitable art experiences and community building. Prior to the pandemic I had been teaching ceramics to all fourth grades in Ellensburg in an outreach program called Clay Days. Once our schools were shut down, I shifted the program to be art-to-go kits for all Kittitas County. I continued to develop my community outreach through art making and teaching by moving my in-person classes to online, hoping to share the importance of art in our everyday lives. 


What are your hopes for the future of artists in Washington State? What would an ideal world look like for artists?  

I believe art is a large part of human culture and see the importance of creating artwork as a form of documenting our current human experience and stories. In an ideal world, there would be room for everyone’s story in our art centers, galleries, and museums, and funding for all. I hope that one day there is more equal representation and that we can have more accurate and empowering depictions of feminine bodies and lived experiences made by women in all medium and material. As a teaching artist, I also hope for more equitable art experiences for all, in particular, providing an education in the arts for our rural communities. 


What did the support from Artist Trust’s Fellowship Award mean to you? What did you do with the support? 

This award has afforded me the time and space to devote my studio practice to research and greater risk taking. Over the coming year I plan to continue to spend my time creating larger than life realistic feminine figures out of clay that unpack the politics of bearing witness to those issues of trauma, gender, sexuality, and health that affect me. As an artist, I am interested in continuing this beautiful human experience of inventively creating and aggrandizing the female lived experience while cultivating the amplification of vulnerable and underrepresented voices. The recognition from receiving this fellowship is the encouragement I need to push me forward on this path of reclaiming and reimagining feminine bodies in art. 



How is Artist Trust’s work important to Washington State artists, especially at this moment in history? Why should people support Artist Trust as donors now? 

Creating community is an important part of most artist’s journey. We seek out opportunities and navigate the art world by applying for residencies, exhibitions, and grants as well as attending art conferences. Every opportunity is a community we become a part of and a series of connected networks. In giving funding to Artist Trust, you’re not just supporting an individual artist to take risks and explore new ideas, but your encouragement is growing a community.