As if unaware of her own talent, Whitney Nye says art is just what she knows how to do. Being an artist came naturally to her. It wasn’t something she set out to do, but is just who she is. Whitney’s art is intricate, fascinating and beautiful, with each piece I saw in her gallery unique, but also a reflection of the person I met. Whitney is incredibly talented, yet down to earth, personable and unassuming. She is someone anyone would enjoy hanging out with or getting to know. I know I did.
Exploration: Whitney Nye explores with art. She works in just about every medium, such as painting, collage, glass casting, and weaving, using a lot of re-purposed materials. Whitney’s work usually begins with a collection, or “family,” for a show or exhibit. Each show has a theme, and no two shows are the same. She doesn’t start with a plan, but just begins to work. Currently, Whitney is gathering wood for sculpting. She had an old sofa frame in her studio which she was dismantling and then will use the parts for the work.
I was fortunate to see some of her pieces in her studio, and my untrained eye observed an exploration with textures and patterns. Two pieces stood out to me. One collage was created by using old sewing patterns from the 60’s and 70’s – those old Butterick and Simplicity patterns many of us grew up with. I was drawn to this piece. Something about the cut-outs in the circles and the pattern of the collage brought back warm feelings from my childhood and a simpler time in my life.
The other piece was a large collage sitting against the wall in her studio. It is made from cut up scraps from old books, to which she added a painted outline of the shape of Oregon. Within the outline are round glass pieces of local fauna and animals, placed in the area of the state where they live. She has finished it so that in certain light, the areas lying outside the Oregon shape are darker. This is an impressive piece, and no picture I could take or description I could write would do it justice.
The Work of Art: Whitney explains that being an artist is hard work, both physically and emotionally. She works a lot in isolation, and has to be her own cheerleader, motivator and accountant. Art is her business, and like any hard working professional, she needs time to rejuvenate and get away from it. Family is more important to her than work. Believing that time is limited, when her nieces or nephews call and ask to go out, she goes.
Whitney just opened a 6 month exhibit at Concourse B at Portland International Airport. The press release describes it as a demonstration of “her patience and dexterity with various mediums.” With this exhibit, “Nye considers and questions the lost connection to the act of making things at home, and how we are presently reconnecting to those abundant creative resources.”
Whitney loves the outdoors and is inspired by it. She is partial to central and eastern Oregon, having grown up in both Bend and Portland. Some of her favorite spots are Twin Lakes and Steen Mountain. She also enjoys alpine and back country skiing, and you will find her exploring the slopes of Mt. Bachelor this winter.
The Bucket List: One of Whitney’s favorite things about Portland is its music scene. Whitney has noticed how Portland has changed and grown over the years, but she appreciates all the great musical talent the city attracts. Not only does she enjoy listening to all the great music here, Whitney also wants to learn to play the guitar. In fact, Whitney has a “bucket list” of other professions she would like to try, and spending two weeks working in a recording studio is high on that list.
Whitney would also like to help design developments so that they blend better with the environment and nature where they are built. She remarked that many of the new buildings going up in NW Portland just don’t fit the aesthetics of the area and look out of place. Similarly, Whitney thinks it would be fun to create the overall interior aesthetic and feel for homes and buildings – something more overarching and unique than the work of an interior designer. Whitney also thinks about designing fabrics.
Discover Whitney: You can read more about Whitney’s work and learn about her at Whitneynye.com. Some of Whitney’s work is always displayed at The Laura Russo Gallery, located at 805 NW 21st Avenue, Portland. You can also see some her work publised at LauraRusso.com.