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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Verve: Artist paints through her emotions

UPDATED: Wed., Oct. 14, 2015

Jennifer Larue

Sierra Dawson is ahead of the game; she purged her teenage angst early and moved on, focusing on her creative spirit.

At 20, she’s got a bit of a “been there, done that” attitude, but she still scribbles in journals – only hers are done in photographs, oil paint, and charcoal and hang on walls for everyone to see, pulling from her past and moving forward.

“Art is my therapy,” she said. “With each brush stroke, I leave behind a piece of me. When I reach for my paintbrush, music speaking to me in the background, all of my thoughts are put on mute. Whether I’m feeling happy or sad, I deal with it though painting or a different artistic medium.”

Dawson grew up in Spokane. Her father died of a drug overdose when she was 13 and her mother worked late nights. Dawson had too much time on her hands and she played hard. She attended Ferris High School and then Lewis and Clark High School, where the only electives available were art classes. “If it wasn’t for Mrs. Kardong, I wouldn’t be creating art,” Dawson said of her art teacher. “She gave me hope and inspired me.”

At Lewis and Clark, Dawson got into a brawl and was sentenced to house arrest for 50 days. In seclusion, she painted at the urging of her art teacher and mother. She graduated from Contract Based Education in Spokane Valley and then moved to Portland, where she studied art and photography at a community college and worked in a head shop.

But distance made her heart grow fonder and she returned to Spokane early this year. She works at the Satellite Diner, takes classes at Spokane Falls Community College, and paints, draws and takes photographs. Her style ranges from realism to surrealism like the bird perched on a human hand from which leaves and branches sprout, and her subjects include the human figure and abandoned places.

“I’ve always appreciated architecture, and too often I see a beautiful house or building falling apart or filled with junk,” she said. “Though I still appreciate their beauty, I feel as though it’s often overlooked, left behind or unappreciated. Perhaps I find such an interest in the abandoned places because I feel a connection to them.”

She has shown her work, including paintings and collages, at the Satellite Diner, where quite a few sold. Recently, she moved into an art studio at Hatch, 9612 E. Sprague Ave., where a handful of other artists work. She will be exhibiting some of her work in a show at Hatch from 4 to 9:30 p.m. Oct. 24.

Embracing her sorrow and joy, she quietly tells her stories.

“Painting grounds me. Regardless of my past, I’m happy about who I have become. All of my hurt has made me passionate, loving and creative. I’m proud to be in touch with all of those things, I believe that is where my natural ability to paint comes from. When I found my artistic outlets, it was like the light at the end of the tunnel.”

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