• Kristin Schuchman, MSW

Featured Artist Whitney Hessong makes memorable mixed media

This month our rotating art exhibit features the hazy digital manipulations of Whitney Hessong, who takes photographs and combines them to create unforgettable collages.

Bright Nights is a monthly networking event hosted at Brightside Coworking that is open to creative and mission-driven solo business owners and professionals. The event is free, but space is limited, so please register. Bright Nights Monday, January 14 6:30 to 9pm (From 8 to 9pm we will migrate across the street to Caldera Pub. If you would like to join us, please show at Bright-side by 7:30pm.)

Brightside Coworking 6018 SE Stark Street Portland, OR 97215 www.brightsidespace.com REGISTER HERE

We took a few minutes to ask Whitney about her process. Check out the interview below.

Q: You create images that are digital montages of photographs. How would you describe your medium?

A: I would describe the medium of my work as digital manipulations. I spend a great deal of time outdoors and I try to capture the feeling of the experience in photographs. When I overlay each photo using a variety of images, I try to create final products that use light and mixing of images to create new colors and combinations.

Q: Where do you find creative inspiration?

A: My creative inspirations are the experiences that I have outdoors. I can attribute my parents influence to my love of the outdoors. They were dedicated to showing my sister and I the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. We spent many spring, summer and fall weekends backpacking and hiking to beautiful places around Oregon.

Q: What do you do when you're feeling creatively "stuck"?

A: I feel creatively stuck when I am not doing art. I have spent most of my life creating images, black and white, pen and ink drawings. I spent ten years in a watercolor group in Ashland and now I have found digital photography. The “stuck” part to me is when I am not engaging in my artistic side.

Q: Where did you learn or study art? Who are your influences?

A: I have no formal training in Art, although I have taken many classes from Craig Honeycutt, an artist in Ashland. Because I spent many years using watercolor as a platform, manipulating color, I think I have a unique way of combining images to create vibrant final pieces. I have always appreciated great artists, Monet, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Ansel Adams probably had the greatest influence when I was young and probably still continue to influence my work.

Q: How did you get started?

A: I got started creating Art in the 7th grade, and it has always been a way for me to connect with my creative side. I have found many great connections with people through art. Taking classes has allowed me to develop relationships with people that I would not normally connect with and those connections have helped me grow both as an artist and as an individual. I have never taken a class on digital photography but that is something that I would like to do in the future. Q: Many people who pursue art as a passion on the side find that it helps them release tension or express themselves in ways that their work doesn’t. Is this true for you? If so, can you elaborate on this?

A: Art is a way that helps me release tension, connect with the outdoors and create images that feel peaceful to me. As a young person, I expressed my emotions through my art. I also developed a sense of self as an artist. In my 20s and early 30s, I spent many hours in the mountains of Southern Oregon, painting images of the hillsides, rivers, streams and mountains. That was a time when I was very focused on my career and having the mental space to escape into the outdoors and create something beautiful was very balancing in my life. As I go into my 40s, I find digital photography a satisfying method to enjoy and notice the complexities of the environment around us.

Q: Among contemporary or past photographers, digital artists, illustrators and designers, who stands out as people you admire?

A: I am very new to digital photography and so I do know a great deal about the field. I am so new to the field that this winter I spent a great deal of time at Saturday market just seeing the digital art and talking to the artists about their methods and techniques. Our local art is amazing, so spending time with them seems like a great start.

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