Visual Artist | Portland, Oregon USA

  • Caitlynn Abdow

Small Artist Think Tank

Updated: Feb 8, 2018

Portland, Oregon is best known for it's delicious craft beer, tattoo shops, and being the most bike friendly city in the US, but it's also home to a thriving community of artists and galleries. 10 years ago when I was just another transplant in Oregon, I wasn't sure how I was going to manage connecting with people in the art scene! Over time I've become part of a wonderful community of creatives here in the city of roses.

After joining a working artist studio in 2017, I discovered a new set of like minded artists. With our creative backgrounds combined, we formed the Odd Earth Collective. One our first initiatives was to collectively define our aims as a micro think tank:


micro think tank mission statement

"We are figurative, symbolic, narrative artists working in the Pacific Northwest. We are storytellers, story compilers, chroniclers of archetypes and voices of the oracle. Through the accumulation and sifting of symbols and archetypes we tap into the shared human narrative.

We draw our lineage from the Surrealist painters of the first half of the 20th century for their oracular, arcane, esoteric inspirations, their visual chimeras and their mastery of figurative painting. In large part, the original Surrealists excluded logic and reason from their practice, seeing it as a source of the negative aspects of society and a stifling of the imagination. We in our time have realized the necessity of balance, and thus make space for logic and reasoning in our pursuit of subconscious exploration. We recognize that people can arrive at the same point from many and varied paths. As yin and yang, the imaginative subconscious realm cannot exist without its partner, rationality.

We connect to the Meta-realists of the late 20th Century for their mystical and metaphysical exploration of surrealism. We also owe a debt of gratitude to the visionary painters of this century for their desire to connect body and spirit, and spirit and cosmos together again.

We have noticed the push and pull of the spiritual and material dichotomy stretching ever farther apart in our society. People are increasingly medicated for anxiety and depression, or else harden themselves into cynicism or oblivion, as the world -the beautiful, life-giving, life-sustaining world- becomes a wasteland. We think this is in part because people no longer know their stories or the stories of the land. As a collective species on a living planet we are in danger of completely forgetting who we are. In contemporary creative practices we observe an increasing interest in earth-based and cultural symbolism. People are crying out to be reconnected.

We answer the call for reconnection by working as storytellers. Storytelling expresses the basic human instinct to preserve knowledge and culture for the present and future. Before written language stories were told in pictures, and whenever language fails us we return to pictures for their immediate, gut-level power to communicate. Archetypal stories can connect us through time and space because their symbols run deep - as familiar as our heartbeats. An archetype is often larger and more complex than can be represented in a single frame grounded in reality. The wounded king, the wicked queen, the faithful man, the brave woman, and more abstractly: endless fire, fertile earth, cold stars. Each of these has a thousand stories and within each archetype is a kernel of universal truth that is felt more than known.

We study symbols to connect to the earth, our ancestors and the universe. Symbols and the reading of symbols become intuitive and even oracular. We create in the hopes that archetypes will connect us to one another and that through accumulative imagery we’ll better understand above and below, and our place here."

To find out more about Odd Earth Collective, please contact any one of the members:

Caitlynn Abdow:

Ila Rose

Kia Metzler IG: @kialeaf

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