Artist Statement

I have been in conversation with the immense and magical Pacific Northwest for 27 years. It is through my intimate engagement with the natural world that I extract the imagery that forms the basis of my drawings, sculptures, photographs, projections, and encompassing installations. 
 
My work is inspired by the timeless and fascinating systems of the body, the natural and constructed world, and their interconnections I am interested in the liminal spaces we inhabit as we live and breathe. I work to engender a feeling of connection to external landscapes and our own internal environments. I encourage viewers to travel to new landscapes within themselves that evoke memories and stimulate hope. 
 
While helping to create the Ko-Falen Cultural Center in Mali, West Africa the Malian people taught me ways of appreciating humanity around the edges of life. I experienced the practices, rituals, and ceremonies that created a bordered and collaborative world in which the people and their natural environment were interconnected. As sensual beings moving through this life we cultivate relationships and forge intersections with each other and nature. I am motivated to visually express these intersections and relationships. 
 
The longer I live, the more I understand that life is precious and ephemeral. By looking at spaces in between, we touch the delicate and fragile places in our lives. However, with the recent war in Mali and continued violence and suffering in our world, my ability to catch my breath and have faith on a cellular level has been challenged. 
 
In 2014 I had the privilege of collaborating with patients at The Oregon State Psychiatric Hospital to create large permanent installations. My installations are created using the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of both breathing and drawing. The process of living, breathing, writing and drawing alongside the patient-artists was profound. This experience contributed to a fundamental shift in my understanding of humanity’s delicate and interwoven relationships. My experience at the State Hospital and my study and practice of yoga has given me the language and fortitude to use my breath and my whole self to build relationships and works that stimulate levity and encourage humane actions that allow us to live together. 
 
The envelope project in 2014, part of the show Clearing at The Hoffman Gallery at Lewis and Clark College, was inspired by my experience with the patients at the State Hospital. People are longing to actively engage in work that connects them to themselves and each other. When asked the simple question, 'Is there something you would like to clear personally or globally?' the response was a resounding 'yes.' People wrote down the things they wanted cleared in sealed envelopes knowing they would be burned in a ceremony at Lewis and Clark College. The project took on a life of its own: over 3,000 envelopes were collected from more 25 countries. I received batches of envelopes from far-flung places without return addresses. I had no idea that this seemingly small gesture would take on such significance. At the burning on December 9, the event was streamed all over the world after having gotten emails, texts and phone calls from people asking to witness the burn. I was humbled and inspired to continue to draw breath in order to keep connecting myself, and my work to the world we share.
 
I have long understood how communing with nature and people influences and forms my works. Recent projects have contributed to my global sense of connectedness. I feel that the interconnections and netting that surrounds us empowers us. I imagine that my works are small but significant renderings of netting that like a spider web appears delicate but gets strength from tension. Like all natural forces I cannot predict where this will take me but I am attempting to make a record of the journey. 

— DANA LYNN LOUIS