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Washington Voices

Artist hopes works stir up faith questions

Thu., July 18, 2013

Jeremy Vermilion, 32, is a man of few words.

When asked where he grew up, he is quick to admit, “I’m not sure I ever did.”

When asked to describe his work, his pauses are long and his answer short: “It’s about my relationship with God.”

He hopes his work speaks for itself and, when urged to elaborate, he said, “We continue to grow every day, right? Why not do it intentionally and with a purpose?”

Vermilion was born in Nampa, Idaho, and moved around a lot in his youth. He called Seattle, Federal Way, Tacoma, Post Falls and Spokane home. With the ups and downs of divorce, he found solace in art.

He graduated from Post Falls High School where he would draw and sketch when he should have been taking notes. He later enrolled at Spokane Falls Community College but dropped out of the fine arts program after being offered a lucrative job in graphic design.

Since then, he has run graphic design departments in large companies and done freelance work including posters for City Church of Spokane whose motto is “We love. We serve. We change.” – notions that are subtly found in Vermilion’s work.

“I started out painting mainly just to decorate walls,” he said. “I quickly discovered that if I was going to continue to do it, then I was going to start needing some subject matter, and that’s what drove me to really take inventory on what I feel is important and what I should be portraying to the world.”

Vermilion’s work touches upon his love for God and the world, and his desire for change. His work also serves as a catalyst for reflection.

“Some of my paintings have a stronger biblical theme, while others are completely nonbiblical. I try hard not to make anything too obvious because one of my goals and purpose for these biblical pieces is to drive people to ask questions,” he said.

His work is a mix of digital images and brush strokes. Using a Wacom Tablet or a brush dipped in acrylic paints, he adds color, texture, and definition to online images or his own photographs, sometimes adding things like a halo, a crown, a Jewish lantern, text or a hand holding an umbrella. There are lions and lambs, a series of bearded men, a woman draped in a shawl, and birds including a small blue one perched on an elephant in a piece called “Hitch Hiking.”

Vermilion has shown his work at the Rocket Bakery, Caterina Winery, Eccoci at NorthTown Mall, Spokane Boxing, Chairs Coffee, the Elk, and most recently at Revel 77 on the South Hill. In September, he will have an exhibit at Tafuri Studio, 913 W. Garland Ave. His ultimate goal is to one day make that big bold move: quitting the 9-to-5 job to focus solely on his art and his message, however subtle.

“It’s a great feeling to wake up in the mornings knowing what your purpose is,” he said.

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