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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Tessa Groshoff finds safety in art

Tessa Groshoff has a passion for art, and she believes in its therapeutic value. Her work is full of memories and philosophies of life. Painting in acrylic or manipulating natural found objects, Groshoff is in a constant search of meaning. (Colin Mulvany)
Jennifer Larue

On a white sheet of paper, Tessa Groshoff spills her secrets.

She swirls, lines and scribbles to tell her stories in the universal language of art that words simply cannot convey.

“Art is my way of communicating,” she said. “I believe a person’s voice can be heard without words. Each stroke is a memory to be created or released, and each stroke has a purpose whether it is dark or light.”

To her friends, Groshoff is a “groovy girl” or a “kumbayah girl,” embodying all that was right in the 1960s, including the ideas of peace and freedom, and her art emulates those notions.

From thick, free flowing applications of paint with the occasional additions of found natural objects to the intricately drawn pieces of fanciful figures who dance, balance and navigate their way through landscapes only found in dreams, Groshoff’s paintings and drawings exude freedom. “I found that by turning my feelings and thoughts toward creating I could express every emotion, good or bad, freely and it was/is safe,” she said. “Then, as I began sharing my work with others, they too would express what they were feeling or uncover something inside of themselves. That is what I want, to allow an opening for others to see into, to not be afraid of seeing, or to possibly find strength in seeing through art.”

Groshoff, 45, has been on quite a journey. She grew up on a farm in Elk where she was exposed to communal living, went without electricity, showered in the chicken coop and sculpted things out of the clay found at the bottom of a pond. She hit the road for college, studying for a year at Cottey College in Missouri, then Spokane Falls, then Washington State University – through which she spent the last semester in London before earning a degree in interior design. She has hitchhiked through Europe, ridden train cars through Mexico, been stopped at the border near Prague and walked the red carpet of Hollywood for her work as co-writer of the locally made film “The Basket.”

Groshoff recently earned her master’s degree from Gonzaga University in community counseling with hopes of sharing her belief that art heals through art therapy.

“It has taken me many years to feel safe and I wish that others can find safety in my art, in my studio, a place to release, be nurtured and also to just giggle,” she said.

Her studio, a converted garage on her South Hill property, has an open door policy; people are welcome to just show up and make art.

“My wildest dream is to live on an organic farm in the middle of a city and have a solar-powered abstract barn where people come and feel free to create in peace with beautiful music all around.”

A member of the recently formed artist group Abstract Underground, Groshoff is looking forward to sharing her groovy-ness.