Artist Staci Thompson Adman
Staci Thompson Adman is an artist and community activist who has lived most of her life in the Seattle area. She received an AA degree from Cottey College in Nevada ,Missouri and a BFA in Painting from the University of Washington. As well as pursuing her own art projects, Staci keeps involved in several community, environmental and philanthropic activities.
Last week, Staci invited Healing Hamlet into her artist studio on a wooded property of Kenmore,Washington. It was candy for the senses. She shared recent sketches, encaustic paintings, glass etchings and recycled glass beads. She even fired up her blow torch to demonstrate bead making techniques.
Staci, thank you so much for doing the first artist interview for Healing Hamlet! Can you tell us how long have you been creating art?
I’ve been drawing and creating things all of my life. I was surrounded by family who were always making things with their hands. I had access to all sorts of tools and materials to make stuff with, and my parents and grandparents have shared their skills with me all of my life.
My first serious art class (outside of middle and high school art classes) was a fantastic teen drawing class that I took at The Factory of Visual Arts, which was located at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford. The coolest thing was that Pacific Northwest Ballet was housed there, too, so when you stepped in the door all of your senses experienced art. In college I switched from being a Pre-Med to an Art major after my first year at Cottey College in Missouri and graduated with a BFA in Painting from the UW. Now I enjoy taking the occasional workshop, mostly at Pratt Art Center in Seattle, to learn how to work with new materials.
What has been your involvement in the art community?
My favorite community involvement has been teaching art as a volunteer in classrooms and working with children on art-related projects. My favorite local art projects have to be the two kids’ art projects that I coordinated that were included on the playground at St. Edwards State Park in Kenmore,Washington. I also had a blast overseeing the chalk art area at Kenmore’s Good Ol’ Days festival. I am a member of the Arts of Kenmore board and I’m currently coordinating this year’s School Art Grants awards. I am a member of the Kenmore Art Show steering committee and had the honor of serving on the committees that helped choose the artists for major art projects included in both the new city hall and new fire station in Kenmore. I am also part of a committee working on the creation of a Veteran’s Memorial inKenmore.
What are your other interests and activities, such as your huge efforts in local environment issues and other volunteer work? Please give us the big long list. Don’t be shy. We want to know all about you.
I was honored to be chosen as the recipient of the Kenmore Heritage Society’s McMaster Award last year for contributions to the community. I just keep getting sucked into great volunteer opportunities. The best part is connecting with new, interesting people.
I am a King County Master Recycler Composter and a King County Salmon Watcher (which means I watch for and count returning salmon every fall at my assigned spots on Swamp and Little Swamp Creek). I created a Little Swamp Creek blog to record what we see happening along the creek and to document the success of the restoration work done along it in our yard by Adopt-A-Stream and the LEAFSchool. I am a member of PEO, an international women’s philanthropic organization. Actually, I’m my PEO chapter’s treasurer, and I have come up with and produced a couple of glass projects that we sell as ongoing fundraisers. I helped to plant the Blue Trees along the Burke Gilman Trail in Kenmore. Next spring I will be taking on a volunteer job on the Iron Goat Trail, located near Stevens Pass. Looks like I enjoy things that involve being outdoors and/or creativity! I love live music performed by people I know, and I love creative, alternative, not-mainstream music. I’m very taken by yarnbombing, a type of “street graffiti” where knitting/crocheted work is put on stuff. I recently sewed nine vests for InglemoorHigh School’s production of Pride and Prejudice, which was a fun project to be a part of
Now that we know a little bit about you, let’s talk about the role of art in your life. What draws you to create art?
I’d say it’s just instinctive and part of who I am. I think I have a compulsive and/or impulsive need to make art and things and to get ideas out of my head. I think I’ve always wanted to make stuff and to see what new things I could do with any given material. I’ve also felt the need to record the world around me, to remember a striking juxtaposition of things or an interesting texture or color or lighting.
What function do you feel art plays in the world and in healing?
I believe that art can add an extra layer to the world. A layer of beauty and a mode for spreading creative, thoughtful inspiration in others. Art can make people notice something or think about something in a whole new way. Art can evoke feelings, both good and bad.
Right off the bat I can think of two major ways that art can help with healing. First of all, someone may encounter a piece of art or artistic expression (a painting, photograph, film, etc.) that makes them realize that they are not alone in experiencing whatever they are hurting or recovering from, and sometimes we achieve a bit of comfort in knowing that we aren’t alone in feeling the way we do about something. Secondly, creating art inspired by how one is feeling can be therapeutic; similar to how talking to someone can make you feel a lot better. Getting something off of your chest, so to speak. Whether a person has a very physical art experience, such as covering a piece of paper with emotionally charged mark-making, or has a slow, contemplative, experience in the thousands of quiet stitches of a knitting or sewing project, for many of us I think there is huge value in getting those feelings out via artistic expression.
Was there a time when creating art helped in your own healing? How did it help you?
First of all, my creative work makes me feel a strong, ongoing connection to my mom and my grandparents, who have all passed away but were huge influences on my artistic being and who I still miss terribly. When my mom died I composed a poem for her which gave me a surprising amount of comfort and the ability to deal with the sadness and start to move forward. One of our sons was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in junior high school. I created several pieces of art inspired by that surprising event. A few of the pieces include insulin bottles that I slumped in my kiln until they were flat, an act in itself which might be interpreted in interesting ways. If anything, the diabetes-inspired art helped me as much as anything because I was taking some time out for myself to sit down and just make art and get some feelings out of my head and into the open.
Can you describe any experiences where you witnessed art or the creation of art causing change or healing?
I have friends who have used journaling, including writing and drawing, to work through difficult times. I do believe my favorite experiences along the lines of witnessing change have been when I’ve worked in classrooms and seen kids work on art projects that made them feel really good about themselves when they saw what they were able to do. But I’ve also witnessed how good adults can feel about themselves when they’ve created something that they feel was a success. It’s especially fun if they never thought they could do what they did. I love that art and creativity can provide this kind of opportunity and these kinds of feelings.
What artists/artworks do you turn to when you need inspiration or healing?
At this point I think I turn to music for calming/comfort/inspiration as much as anything. And take walks for the same reason. Lately I’ve been inspired by glass and small-scale metalwork. I visit art museums and check out books from the library for artistic inspiration. Making beads on my torch or working on a knitting project can be a very meditative, relaxing task to work into my day. And I think it’s very healthy!
What else should we should know about you?
My proudest accomplishments are my two boys. I love that we are at the point where I get to sit back and watch who they are becoming. I’m so happy that they are both creative, open-minded, kind-hearted and deep thinkers.
Staci, thank you so much for sharing your time, wisdom and artwork with Healing Hamlet!
Find out more about Staci Thompson Adman at Studiowhimsy!