Katherine Nelson Art: Artist Blog

New and Upcoming Projects, Exhibitions, Creative Process, Inspiration

How Curiosity Became The Main Ingredient In My Drawings of the Palouse

     Inquisitiveness is the story of my life.  I experiment with drawing techniques for the sake of growth because I'm curious about the way things work or might work. I completely geek out over technical tools.  I'll blame that quality on my long term exposure to art, cool gear, and intriguing cultures. It's no wonder that the Palouse has enticed me to learn about all sorts of things related to grain. It seems every vista leads me to another turn in my ever growing fascination with heritage farms, landscape architecture, and the imploding world of grain nerds. I can't help wanting to dig deeper.

     "Although based in Washington, D. C., landscape artist Katherine Nelson has regularly traveled across the continent since the early 2000s to Washington State’s legendary Palouse Country of undulating grainlands to capture the summertime chiaroscuro of swirling slopes, saddles, and swales. She traces threads of her fascination with the region to her diplomat father’s interest in Turkish rugs: “I remember their textures and shapes which influenced my affection for rolling landscapes. The Palouse is a tapestry of woven connections among seasons, fields, and people. The effect is thoroughly spiritual and provides a place of reflection, solace, and beauty that overcomes the noise of the outside world.” To emphasize the effects of light for line and shadow, Nelson works entirely in black-and-white which evokes heightened awareness of layering, texture, and movement. “My ‘Portraits of the Palouse,’” she explains, “are metaphors for the human prospect. ‘Harvests’ to me are exhibitions that depict the land as hallowed space through views of heritage farm architecture and landscape vistas. Implicit rural values relate to the natural environment, hard work, and community, and are relevant anywhere.”1 ----Dr. Richard Scheuerman, Author, Palouse Historian and President of Palouse Heritage. 1. "Hallowed Harvests". Chapter 10. Tradition in Flight. Country Life in Modern Expression.

     I was raised living and traveling in Europe and the Middle East. I am curious about people, unique places, and the hidden stories within the landscape. I want to learn about traditions, cultures, and family history. Curiosity and possibility are the life lessons of my childhood that I take along with me on my creative journeys. In my formative years I was blessed with many examples for living with “creative possibility”. One remarkable outcome from my expat tour in Turkey resulted in my parents, David and Judy Nelson, discovering and founding the Akbash and Kangal Dogs of Turkey in North America. Their visionary establishment of these rare breeds and research led to international recognition for the breeds. “In 1998, ADAA accepted an invitation from the United Kennel Club, the second largest canine registration body in the world, for the Akbash Dog to be registered by the UKC and to be eligible for UKC sponsored events and privileges. The UKC’s interest in the Akbash Dog as one of the recognized native breeds of Turkey was the result of a 1996 International Symposium on the Turkish Shepherd Dog held in Konya, Turkey. That Symposium led to the statement that three native livestock protection breeds (Akbash, Kangal, and Kars Dogs) were recognized in Turkey.” Kangals are now considered a national treasure in Turkey. To learn more about these remarkable guardian dogs and my family legacy that continues to aid farmers and ranchers with livestock all over the world please follow the link to the official Akbash Dog Association of America. http://www.akbashclub.com/history I live by my parents’ example which is to create with a passion no matter how far off the beaten path that pursuit may place me. I was the kid off the grid who sat on woven bags filled with straw while drinking traditional Turkish chai tea in the center of a a small village farm right in the middle of Central Anatolia along the Sivrihisar River watching my parents converse in Turkish about dogs. 

     Seeking to dig deeper into the hidden stories behind the outer appearance of wheat landscapes, I visited numerous heritage farms and attended the very popular Grain Gathering at WSU (http://thebreadlab.wsu.edu/the-grai...) (https://www.palouseheritage.com/blo...) and the grain conference at https://cascadiagrains.com/ in 2017. Both conferences offered many insights to the world of grain economy, artisanal products, farm to table inspiration, plant science, and Landrace Grains. I learned alongside some of the best grain nerds and creators. Topics ranged from variety of grain, to food ethnography, and the Fresh Flour Movement. One may ask why am I digesting a lot of dynamic grain information while drawing gorgeous heritage farms? Because, honestly, I find it very nourishing to my creativity and my entire being. In fact, baking with home milled landrace grains that were sent to me by a farmer that I know who’s mission is to bring healthier sustainable historic grains to your table is my definition of cool. It connects me to a local economy and deepens my understanding of farming. Grains with deep roots sequester carbon which makes a difference to global warming. In a long winding road influenced by my own roots, raised by a geology major and a microbiologist, I find myself entirely immersed in grains and the unusual geology of place. Not a surprise. Grains are important to you whether you know it or not. Grain is the history of the world and our future. So is art.

Here’s what is on the horizon for 2018. I am presently creating a new body of drawings for my upcoming exhibition at The Art Spirit Gallery in Coeur d’ Alene, ID, USA which will open on July 13th, 2018. As this is a creative “journey” and I am “curiously” looking at all the possibilities for this show, I will not spill the grains and tell you exactly what is in it yet because I'm exploring my options. Stay curious. Eat some home milled bread. Go to your farmer market. Then, please put July 13th on your calendar especially if you live in WA, ID, MT, or OR. For all others willing to fly in for a visit...may the force be with you.

Happy sprouting in 2018!