Portland/Brooklyn Artist Series, Week 3: Stephanie Congdon Barnes

Mar 1, 2010

A few years back, a friend of mine first introduced me to a new blog about two friends who posted photos from their mornings side by side.  The blog 3191: A Year of Mornings was a collaborative effort between Stephanie Congdon Barnes from Portland, Oregon and Maria Vettese from Portland, Maine.  The project was such a hit, it became a book in Fall of 2008 and another project, 3191: Evenings, soon followed.

In addition to her beautiful photography, Stephanie creates amazing handcrafted creatures and objects. 
I absolutely love the pine cones she made this winter.  I'll take one of those and a tartan birdie, please.

How would you describe your work?

I think a lot of what I do is about nostalgia.  The work I did with the 3191 projects was really about nostalgia for everyday domestic life.  We were documenting those details of our lives that we might otherwise pass by.  My sewn work is very much about nostalgia as well- memories of my own childhood toys and of a time when things were made by hand with care.  It is my hope that the things that I make feel both familiar and new.  I am also greatly influenced by the natural world whether it be a color palette that I choose or an attempt to actually replicate something from nature. 

What are the greatest challenges of being an artist today?

As a craftsperson, I need to give myself the space to try new things and explore new ideas despite a continued demand for certain types of objects.  I want to feel sincere and excited about everything that I make and when I am hand-stitching my 100th brown linen twig, my enthusiasm is really waning.  It's also very hard to not feel as though you should be working all the time.  Setting up a workspace outside of my home has really helped me with my work/home life boundaries (I share a workspace with  my husband who is an architect). 

What accomplishments/works of art are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my continuing collaboration with Maria Vettese and the 3191 projects.  We are now into our fourth year of working together, and it's been an incredible experience.  Our book 3191: Evenings turned out incredibly well and we're both proud of it, but it was really nerve-racking for me at the outset!

What do you love most about Portland?

I love that I can walk or bike just about everywhere I want to go- my kids' school, my workspace, great restaurants and markets with locally-grown and produced food, breweries, music venues, beautiful parks and wooded areas.  People are happy here, and having a good quality of life allows me to be creative and stay inspired.  When I feel like I need some space, there are the Cascades, the Columbia River Gorge, the high desert, the Oregon coast, all within a few hours.  We've been here 10 years and feel as though we've only begun to explore.

Stephanie puts together a new collection of handcrafted goods for her shop every 4 - 6 weeks, and she tends to sell out within an hour! Her latest collection of springtime animals is going up the first week of March.  Check out Stephanie's blog for updates.

For more information on the 3191 projects, visit Stephanie and Maria's blog here

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This week's featured Brooklyn artist is Dan-ah Kim.  Read her interview on Art Hound.


Kate - Art Hound said...

Stunning photos! I just love the first shot. : ) One observation I've made so far is that dedicated studio space is much more common in Portland than Brooklyn.

Anna said...

great interview!

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