TILKE ELKINS: RECORDS OF BEING HELD
September 17–December 3, 2022
OPENING RECEPTION WITH THE ARTIST
Friday, September 30, 5-7pm
WORKSHOP: AN INTRODUCTION TO WILD PIGMENTS
Friday, October 14, 2pm
ARTIST'S TALK: BEING WITH PIGMENTS
Friday, October 14, 4pm
(September 2022) “Pigments are living collaborators. I paint on wild surfaces, with mineral and botanical pigments originating in the sites where I work,” writes Tilke Elkins. While the Oregon-based artist’s latest series will exist in a gallery space, it’s a visual and tactile conduit to the places where she hand-gathers materials and creates artwork. In Records of Being Held, Elkins presents three large-scale, double-sided foraged mineral pigment paintings; a collection of single-ply shadow paintings that are the result of many visits to remote areas by the Whilamut/Willamette River; and natural pigment-imbued leaves. This show is presented in conjunction with Elkins’ curatorial effort Wild Pigment Project. Visitors can join the artist at the opening reception on Friday, September 30, 5-7pm, for a workshop on foraging pigment in urban spaces on Friday, October 14 at 2pm, and for an artist’s talk that same day at 4pm.
In an unconventional approach to the dynamic between an artist and her collectors, the pigments of each work in Records of Being Held will eventually be re-collected by the artist and other members of the pigment community, and ritually returned to the sites where they were gathered. Individuals interested in participating in this painted performance can engage the materials by offering financial support for communities in ancestral relationship with the land where the pigments were found. A portion of sales proceeds will benefit the Kommema Cultural Protection Association, an organization led by Kalapuya elder Esther Stutzman, currently rematriating an area of ancestral Kalapuya lands in the region where these pigments were gathered, and the Wild Pigment Project Equitable Opportunity Fund.
As a lonely child of busy parents, I sought solace in two things: Saturday morning cartoons and my rambles in fields and woods. In the first I found a noisy, peopled, technicolored world built by hand through imagination and creative freedom, which punctuated the grey stillness of the quiet, early-morning house. In the second, I found the listening ears and reassuring presence of the interspecies community, a living playground that engaged my body and my longing for companionship. The culture that raised me also taught me that these two things I loved were activities reserved for children, and not of “the real world.” The impulse to validate both imaginative drawing and a communicative relationship with the interspecies world as crucial adult activities drives this exhibition.
For me personally, this embodied, material dialog with foraged and found pigments, and wild or remote areas, is beyond mere observation or recreation. It feels essential. That doesn’t mean what I’m doing is “right,” of course. This research is on-going, and invites regular input. Countering the tradition of “capturing” a landscape through the formal distillation of its visual beauty, these records are instead offered as temporary collaborative performances with materials—conjunctions that will dissolve and evolve.
Tilke Elkins is an artist, writer, educator and curator based in Oregon on Kalapuya territory, focused on site-specific/site-responsive painting and social practice art. She has worked with mineral and botanical pigments since 2007, and is the founding director of Wild Pigment Project, a collaborative initiative which promotes ecological balance and regenerative economies through a passion for wild pigments, their places of origin, and their cultural histories. Tilke teaches regular courses on foraging and wild pigment studio practice, and publishes a monthly newsletter, Pied Midden, featuring interviews with pigment practitioners worldwide.
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