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Rio Wrenn

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Portland , Or.

Birth year

Lives in

Works in


The Art Institute of Seattle, 1989
Cornish College of the Arts, 1992
University of Washington, 1998, 2002

sculpture, conceptual, abstract, installation, mixed-media, fiber-art, natural dyes, rust


My rusting process is an expression of the ephemeral and the natural aging and decay of all things. Life cannot exist without the aging process: birth is eventually and inevitably followed by death. Though the process blurs over time, a record of the existence of things past is contained in the earth. It is in this record where my work begins.

Using natural processes, I hasten the rusting and oxidation of the mundane tools, objects and industrial metal pieces common to people's daily lives, by creating a physical record of their decay in silk and other fine fabrics. Metaphors for the fragile skin of all things living, the silks bear a record of life itself.

In the soils of their former inhabitants the detritus and castoff objects of life slowly decay and dissolve into the earth. They are my treasures. The buried iron and copper, the plants and insects decay and create the colors that bleed and stain the silks. Time sets the colors produced by heat and decomposition.

The objects of human existence lie in the soil's strata and integrate humans and the earth. Like all of the objects of our existence we too are eventually interred. Ancient rituals and practices were founded in the wonder and awe of this reality. Thus, the act of creation has always been a sacred ritual unto itself.

Creating is telling a story. The creator is the shaman, the spider and the artist.

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