Who: Portland sculptor Crystal Schenk is among the Artists in Residence at Caldera Arts Center. Located west of Sisters, Caldera offers wintertime residencies to artists, dancers, writers and other creative folks when the summer youth camp is otherwise quiet. Schenk, who teaches at Portland State University and Pacific Northwest College of Art, is joined by her husband, Shelby Davis. The couple did a 2013 Caldera residency together. This time the two have their young son, Alder, along with them. This marks Caldera’s third year offering the residency to parent artists. “For a youth organization, it feels a natural extension of its AiR and it has proven really positive for everyone,” said Elizabeth Quinn of Caldera. You can check out more from Schenk, as well as the other seven artists doing January residencies, at Caldera’s free Open Studio event, taking place at 12:30 p.m. Jan. 28. Contact: calderraarts.org.
Q: Do you and Shelby work together?
A: We do. We have individual practices, and then we have a collaborative practice as well; we do public art together. But this time around, we’re doing our own thing, which is good. It’s good for the marriage. And then our son is here, too. He’s 2½.
Q: Has Caldera brought in many families before you?
A: This is kind of a new thing, and I think it’s very wonderful. There are very few residencies that allow children. Either they’re not set up for it, or sometimes it’s insurance reasons, or the whole idea of a residency is you’re supposed to cultivate this very concentrated time of creativity, and having a kid around isn’t always conducive to that. Elizabeth was saying that she’d talk to different artists, and you’d look at their career trajectory, and there would be this empty space in the middle — that’s when they had kids. … She really wanted to help close that gap.
Q: What are you working on while you’re there?
A: When Shelby and I were here last time … part of what we did was take molds of some of the burnt trees around here. We were really interested in the history of the land and the forest fire complex that had come through. … We ended up doing sort of a different project together that time, but I still have this (silicone) tree mold. Before I came out here, I started envisioning an installation I want to make. It’s going to be of cast paper trees that are burnt, (and) I’m going to use that tree mold. A lot of my work is drawn from personal memories, sort of a mishmash of different moments, and trying to bring my viewer into that space. … When I was 10 we moved to Happy Camp, California, and within four days there were these huge lightning storms. They were just incredible, and so beautiful, but by the end of the week all the mountains around us were on fire. It was really intense. We had our bags packed, my dad was spraying down the house with a hose, and it was so smoky during the middle of day that it was almost like night. … So it’s a piece of that memory, and those will be life-size trees. At the center of the space, I’m going to have a small replica of a trailer park that my dad lived in when I was a kid. One of the things I really enjoy is having a shift of scale. I like the idea of the viewer walking into a gallery and everything’s sort of at your scale, and then coming through the trees it almost feels like you’re hovering over the space.
— David Jasper, The Bulletin