Spokane WAM
Costumers: Sex Cake Monster,  photo: Jason Mayers 

About WAM

Spokane WAM fosters a community of creative exchange for women in art and media. As a group of artists, practitioners, and professionals, WAM hosts a variety of events, guest speakers, and professional networking opportunities.

Spokane WAM Expo
WAM participants
Shantell Jackson, Ceilan Hunter-Green, Taylor Weech  

By Anne-Claire Mitchell

On January 28th, two neighboring venues in downtown Spokane--the Richmond Gallery and the Bartlett—took on the task of exhibiting work by more than 20 local female visual artists, filmmakers, and small business owners in roughly 1000 square feet.  Over the course of four hours, three hundred people circulated through the space to view the cross-disciplinary artwork—a new experience for many.  The goal of the exhibit, according to founder Rebecca Chadwell, was to provide an infrastructure for creative and professional support.  “WAM started out relatively recently, over coffee with Mischa Jakupcak. Then it became a group of us talking about wanting to create a professional support system for one another, with regard to technology, access and representation. The original vision was sitting around eating pizza or whatever and talking about skill sets and opportunities.” Chadwell says,  “We facilitated collaboration opportunities, but then realized that an important follow-up would be an exhibition outlet. It was an experiment and it worked.”

The 2016 Spokane Women in Art and Media (WAM) Annual Expo was to be imbued with the multisensory.  Abstract and representational paintings, drawings, photographs, mixed-media, and ceramic pieces lined the walls.  Audiovisual compilations were projected subtly and not so subtly-- Shamar Brown's video art danced on the exterior of the building.  Installations of industrial concrete adorned with meticulous glasswork, a freestanding room  with artifacts conveying domestic trauma, and a delicate silk kimono juxtaposed with wood-carved pubic hair took visitors on a conceptual journey. An auxiliary room revealed a queen-sized bedroom set, outfitted with fresh linens and pillow mist, inviting participants to engage with a performance artist in acts of social vulnerability.  Adjacently, audience members noshed on pastries from Batch Bakeshop, while watching short film and readings.
Artist Sarah Katherine of Pictorian 
Participants in the expo were selected through an open call for submissions. A committee comprised of local artists, academics, and art administrators curated the work. “You didn’t have to be a member of the WAM group to be eligible,” Chadwell explains, “You just had to have made art here at some point, it was important that the work we showed was of this area in some way.”  

As a result, contributions were made by international artists who participated in Spokane residency programs, by recent transplants to the city from outside the region, and by Spokane locals whose practice has remained here.  Despite the diversity of media, subject matter, and perspectives, cooperation and support were felt by all.  “Throughout the experience, I had the overwhelming feeling of mutual respect and lack of competitiveness, which is something that is unfortunately often missing in group shows,” says Rhode Island School of Design alumna Julie Gautier-Downes.  “The WAM Expo gave me enough room to recreate an installation that I rarely have the opportunity to exhibit due to space constraints.” Downes’ current work, “Echoes of Home,” contextualizes experiences of losing her childhood home to environmental disaster.  Downes creates life-sized domestic spaces filled with aged and forgotten memorabilia, allowing viewers to engage with memories of homes once inhabited.   She displays original photographs of barren scenery or decaying infrastructure in lightboxes throughout the space, which Downes describes as “Windows—portals that link the viewer to a distant landscape.”
Artist Kiyomi Chadwell, photo: Spokanerrific
As the evening went on, the energy in the room was palpable and seemed to stir emotions. Many audience members expressed discomfort as they entered “Nested,” an interactive piece by Performance Artist and LGBTQ activist Jewels Dietrich. Inviting participants into bed with her to hold or to be held. Dietrich investigated intrinsic human desires for vulnerability, which she believes are often repressed by social convention.  “[I] built a no-barrier interaction which is not experienced in our everyday lives,” explains Dietrich.  “My work is about exploring that common thread which connects us all.” By the end of the performance, the previously skeptical now openly wept.  “I love that people here are willing to open up with me. The WAM space was lovely and wonderful to create in,” says 

The expo peaked at the Bartlett with an hour-long series of live readings by local poets, including Poet Laureate Laura Read, Ellen Welcker, Maya Zeller, Nance van Winckel, and others.  Printmakers and graphic designers offered smaller, handmade goods for sale on the periphery of the stage, while Batch Bakeshop and Spaceman Coffee provided pastries and free hot beverages, respectively. “Spokane isn't the most progressive town and I think there's a lot of room for women to come together and create safe spaces and opportunities,” says Bartlett owner Karli Ingersoll.  “[Room to] share their art in a way that allows experimentation and growth. Spokane WAM is definitely an important force in that process.” Spokane WAM hopes to continue the process of establishing a presence within the regional community.
Artist: Julie Gautier-Downes


Spokane Women in Art and Media would like to thank its Community Partners, without whom this event could not have materialized:

The Bartlett 

The Richmond Art Collective / Richmond Gallery

Spokane Arts

Laboratory Spokane

Spaceman Coffee PNW

Batch Bakeshop

Don Barrington Photography

And other Creative Collaborators:

Ginelle Hustrulid
J.W. Trull
Katy Maehl
Tod Marshall
Jesse Swanson


 Absurdity in Spokane 
By Lolly Ruby Redpath
As I'm getting older I am becoming more interested in the syncing up of my mind and hands. I love creating beautiful things with my hands. It excites me to learn tricks to making things; how to hold your hands when you carve wood, the perfect settings on a spray gun, or how to make a crin so that a headpiece stays attached. I am still finding a true place where I can feel fulfilled in all my creative impulses. For now that place resides somewhere between costuming, puppetry and installation art and working out how to bring all 3 together.

I first discovered puppetry whilst at the Victorian College of the Arts and when very disillusioned with theatre design. We weren't allowed to do anything truly challenging or kooky in University and when my dad died in my second year, I was very close to tapping out of creating. During this hectic time I met a Puppet Maker who was lecturing in the Puppetry course and his joy for the physical labour of creating something with his hands, really rechartered a course for me. I changed my major from Design to Workshop and worked with the Puppetry students on their productions. 

Puppetry tapped into something that theatre design had not been satisfying; the magic of 'suspension of disbelief'. When an audience are truly engaged with a world, when it is unidentifiable as a usual reality, we're not obliged to act or create as expected. This opens up a whole realm of wonder and understanding that we might otherwise block out. The awe felt in that moment is a root feeling that can lead to so much searching and learning. When creating my own puppetry pieces, something I have begun to do in the past few years, using the suspension of disbelief to access emotional spaces has become key.The ideals and otherworldliness of puppetry has fed into my other work, particularly with the collaborative work that I do with Sorjeri Tane.
Under the name Sex Cake Monster we explored our penchant for the absurd and the beautiful. Sorj and I have worked for years using our technical skills to create work for clients and this project was a step away from client expectations and a delving into our own. It allows us to explore aesthetic, body and form and try and give it a context in our world. By morphing the body and using techniques from the puppetry world we create intricate pieces that are something other than human. 

Part of the aim in these creations is to showcase something physically attractive and grotesque at the same time; that these things are never truly separate. Recently whilst in Spokane we had the opportunity to develop a new work incorporating an entirely new skill set. With the support of Laboratory Spokane we began using programmable LED technology within our costumes, adding another level of ambience to the work and furthering the idea that the wearable art was it's own entity. I had never used any kind of programming platform before, but with the mentorship of Laboratory I was able to navigate and develop the know-how to at least problem solve what we were trying to achieve. 

The experience I had whilst working in Spokane has inspired a new gamut of technical skills, friendships and allowed me the vision to push these creations even further. The support that we received from the people we met in Spokane was staggering. Everyone was as excited about what we were doing as we were. There was a beautiful freedom in this. This experience has added a new dimension to the forms we create, and personally, given me a new fascinating tool to bring my hands and my mind even closer together.

 Local Artist :  Haili Marie Kiehn 
Interview by LauraLee

 When did you start playing music? 

Some friends worked really hard to get this awesome band to come to Spokane, and it was a really rad show at Spokane Vintage Warehouse. I think they were having a hard time organizing opening bands. So, my friend Celia Rost and I, who had never played any instruments at all, put together this ridiculously weird and stupid set for this Milk Music show. I will never play a cooler show. It was our first show and my first time performing. I had no idea what to expect. I remember I didn't wear a bra for no apparent reason, which is such a rookie mistake. Ouch. Oh, the band was called Pregnancy Pact.

 How do you handle mistakes during performances? 

I smile or laugh. I smile a lot when I play. I'm just having a great time. 

 Do you encounter the "Boys Club" and how do you handle it? 

Because I am a woman, I encounter this wherever I go. But I'll just talk about how I handle being in a crowd or playing a show where the room is 90% male.The environment varies so much from show to show in Spokane. You really have to just take control of the situation. Create a safe space by protecting yourself and other women in the crowd. Stand up to people who you think are invading someone's personal space. Speak up. While performing, you have the floor, you can see everyone, so it's a good position to be in if you see someone being disrespectful. You have a voice, use it. 

 What advice would you give beginners? 

Get an instrument and play it. The rest is going to happen naturally if you are making something you love. 

 Tell me about your teaching experience at Ink Art Space

Gosh, I just had the best time! I could do it every day. All the girls in the Girls Rock Lab were amazing and had so much talent. They had no idea what they had. The hardest part is teaching someone to just let go of everything that they know about music and just make some noise that feels good to make!

 How do you balance your music with other obligations, such as your partner, job etc.? 

Well, luckily, I play music with my best friend, so there's really not much else I would rather be doing except maybe playing music with my boyfriend. We just started a band in which he plays bass and I play drums. There's a guitar guy too, his name is James. The band is Peru Resh. So I'm at band practice a lot. I guess there's not much else to juggle except maybe our puppy, but she doesn't mind the noise. 

 Your current music is Phlegm Fatale - what is your mission statement if you have one or do you have a personal story you would like to share? 

I don't know about a mission statement. I feel like every performance is a statement. So much work goes into every show. There are a few people in this community that work so hard to bring cool bands to Spokane and they just do it because they like to see cool bands play! Jeff Glinski does a lot of booking and I am really thankful that he is constantly talking to all these bands and setting up rad shows for us to play. Jeff is awesome. He also partnered up with a visual artist to design the flyers for all the shows he books. That's Kiefer Jones. A good flyer is so important and Kiefer's art is amazing so keep your eye out for the XE OM show posters. I guess I just wanted to say that making music and performing music requires a community of people who support and love the scene and you're never too young or old to be a part of it.

 Community Partnership Creates Art 
By Heather Malvik
Photos: Don Barrington Photography
International Women's Day is fast approaching and is part of a collaboration with the Spokane WAM group and other organizations. It’s the perfect opportunity for us at Don Barrington Photography to reflect on strong artists whom we admire and who also happen to be women. One of the guests hosted by the women’s media group, along with the Richmond Art collective and EWU, was Nilé Livingston. We visited with her in the studio while she was here, and learned of her passion for connecting people through art and color. She is at the top of the list of artists we will be celebrating for International Women’s Day, and we had the chance to do a portrait session with her in our studio at The Richmond. 

Within the historical Richmond building on Sprague, and above both one of Spokane's favorite music venues and bar, The Bartlett, and the new stylish café, Spaceman Coffee, is the Richmond Art Collective (RAC). There are many doors through which to enter the space and upon stepping into the 100 year building, one can sense it reverberates creativity. The old hotel has been divided into rooms surrounded by brick walls that have torn wall paper and painted plaster of all hues and patterns. The interior design is analogous to the artists it houses, as the RAC provides the studio space and home for creatives of all mediums, including but not limited to painting, sound, and photography.
The artists here are not only from our beloved Inland Northwest, but from across the nation. 

Don Barrington Photography has been a part of this collective for the past year. In our time here, we have been fortunate to become acquainted with the artists that surround us, often crossing paths in the Richmond Gallery located behind Spaceman coffee. In these moments, we exchange stories, ideas and knowledge regarding our work and are able to bridge our disciplines. This sort of collaboration is precisely what the collective was created for, and most recently, we were lucky enough to connect with Nilé Livingston. 

Nilé Livingston is a contemporary visual artist and social activist from Philadelphia specializing in vivid paintings of all hues that reflect and encourage connection between communities. She was staying within the Collective for a week while exhibiting her work at the Richmind Gallery and lecturing at Eastern Washington University as a visiting artist. Her lecture was on creating community connection through art and business and we couldn't help but invite her to share her vibrancy in our studio for a portrait session. Thank you to Spokane WAM for creating space for artists like Nilé in our community!



Artist Nile Livingston

 Local Artist :  LauraLee 

LauraLee is the founder and curator for La Resistance, art and music shows. These shows feature approximately 20 rotating artists plus 3 musical acts. These events create an opportunity for exhibition of high impact visual artists featuring different media, disciplines & social demographics. La Resistance fosters a sense of camaraderie while showcasing exceptional talent from the community. Shows vary in themes and location. La Resistance provides tables for merchandise sales and fundraising activities, including door prizes during opening night, silent auctions, & community events.

She is a multimedia artist that experiments with the boundaries and rules of folk art, 3D collage, light boxes, paintings, crow quill ink, performance, and mixed media abstract. She has participated in group shows such as the Artist Collaboration Project, Terrain, and the Hatch Gallery, and has done solo shows at Object Space, Bozzi and other galleries. She has shown her work at community events and donated artwork to fundraising events, including Perry Street Fair with Veda Lux, Hopped Up, and Roller Derby art shows and exhibited in Seattle with The Underground Traveling Booze and Pancake show. She has been featured in Spokesman Review, Terra Obscura, and Art Chowder.


                              Brooke Matson

                               Rotary Phone

                              Some days I find myself pausing 
                              by the rotary phone
                              to spin the letters of your name—

                              winding back time
                              in the hum and clack

                              of the wheel as if reeling you in 
                                                     by letter

                              Never mind 

                              that it’s not plugged in 
                              but I swear to God some days
                                           I hear a crackling on the other end

                              like the time you called me from the hospital
                              still unable to speak
                              after the first surgery

                              and I loved you quietly

                              through the silence on the line

Copyright © 2016 Spokane WAM, All rights reserved.

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