My work explores the relationship between humans and our environment – man-made and natural – by combining landscape painting with architectural elements and text. I am particularly interested in the interface between urban, rural, and wild in this era of rapid environmental change.

I am influenced by the technical virtuosity and transcendent luminosity of romantics such as the Hudson River School painters. But my landscapes necessarily reflect contemporary interventions in the natural world, as seen by a contemporary eye.

For several years, my paintings have reflected construction in Seattle’s arboretum during SR520 bridge replacement and removal of the giant, never-used “Bridges to Nowhere.” Visually, few places show more disconcerting contrasts between the humming hush of dense green growth, and massive infrastructure development. Conceptually, these images juxtapose a wetland only 16 feet above sea level against highways and all that they imply: carbon emissions, climate change, habitat erosion, and eventual ocean rise.

I recently moved from Seattle to Oregon’s high desert. While finishing the Arboretum series, I am also shifting to a palette and subject matter inspired by the place where ponderosa pines meet the juniper and sage scrublands east of the Cascades. Stay tuned for developments.

Tamara Stephas
2017