Spokane’s eighth annual Town and Country Studio Tour is scheduled Sept. 17-18, when six artists’ studios on the South Hill will be open to the public.
Artist Lea Anne Scott is participating for the first time, unveiling her newly built studio and her hand-formed cement garden sculptures alongside a half-dozen other artists who will set up their creations for display on the surrounding grounds.
Twenty-five more artists will be exhibiting at other studios.
The event is helping motivate Scott to make art. “It’s kind of a kick in the butt to get organized and to make things,” she said.
Scott, 50, grew up in poverty in Newport, R.I., where she experienced multiple significant traumas.
“These experiences may have set me apart from others and were perhaps the impetus for me to build my own personal reality,” she said, “Seeking a place of freedom from the harsh judgment of those around me, I found nature to be a refuge.”
Eventually she moved to Port Townsend, Wash., and then to Spokane in 1992 to attend college and raise her three children. She earned a bachelor’s degree in studio art and history from Gonzaga University and has made 15 public sculptures throughout the U.S. Her first was a large archway at an elementary school in Anchorage, Alaska.
She stopped applying for public art installations a couple of years ago to continue her education at Eastern Washington University. Soon, she will have a master’s in history, focusing on the social aspect and material culture of the past, which she believes will help develop her artistic endeavors.
Still, she couldn’t give up art so she began creating sculpturally driven pieces on a smaller scale.
“I was broke at the time. I had a plentitude of pine cones, some old fencing and a bag of concrete in the garage,” Scott said.
And so it began; she created her first hand-formed concrete sculpture, given bulk with pine cones. It is a large bust of a woman who appears to have stepped out of an ancient civilization. Gazing toward the sky, she is filled with awe and hope and placed atop a mountain of pine cones kept in place with chicken wire.
What once was a garage is now a functional studio where Scott is free to create, using whatever’s on hand: twigs and branches, leaves that she presses into the still-wet cement. Inspired by nature and the human form, she makes heads and full figures, bowls for the garden, fountains and gates all which will be on display during the studio tour.
Looking at her work, one cannot help but somehow feel connected to nature. Scott believes that her connection with nature began when she was a lonely child. “I connected with nature at a deep spiritual level as a child. I was not concerned with conformity and therefore developed in my own way. I had a more inward looking meditative outlook than most people, a possible result of nurture and nature.”