From an early age, Grays Harbor artist Carrie Larson said she felt art was her calling.
“As a little kid, we used to get these little books that you could record your memories from the year in. You know, answers to things like, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ ” she said. “It was always there; artist, poet or both.”
Her stepfather’s different jobs and promotions caused the family to move several times before settling in Aberdeen when Larson was 13. She was born in Bellingham, then moved to Selah and Portland, Ore., before moving to Grays Harbor.
She said she was lucky enough to have parents who supported her passions. She graduated from Aberdeen High School and moved on to Whitman College in Walla Walla where she studied art under Keiko Hara, a renowned mixed-media abstract artist. After earning her college degree, she stayed at the school as an intern for a year before moving home.
In Aberdeen, she found work at an architecture firm now called Harbor Architects.
While working for the architecture firm she also met her husband, Polson Museum Director John Larson.
“We had a project over there so I went over to pick up some drawings and we met at the museum where he works,” she said. “You kinda think sometimes, ‘At some point, I’ll move away’ but then I met John and he’s absolutely married to his job also, so I don’t think we’re going anywhere.”
They have been married for 14 years. She kept the architecture job for five years before becoming a full-time artist.
She said she doesn’t mind that her family won’t be moving any time soon. Although there aren’t many galleries or outlets to send her work, Larson says she enjoys being part of a growing art community on the Harbor.
Plus, there are always places she can send work or visit for inspiration.
Her art has been in juried shows all over the country, including in Denver, Chicago, California and Oregon.
Last year, she did a six-week residency at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology near Otis, Ore. Her feelings of being away from home but still grounded led to the name “Rooted and Unmoored” for the work being shown at the Spellman Library at Grays Harbor College that was created or inspired during this time.
“My natural surroundings are always integral in what I’m doing,” Carrie said. “Even a lot of my abstract work is grounded in a physical landscape.”
She said that reading also shapes a lot of her work, although she can’t just pick one as a favorite.
“I think it depends on what book speaks to you at the time you’re reading it,” she said.
Her work is a mixture of paintings, typography, paper and found objects, used in different ways to present the message she is looking for. The exhibit was planned during her residency with a proposal to the head librarian at Spellman, Stan Horton.
Bob Hunter, former Aberdeen High School art teacher who had Larson as a pupil, attended the exhibit. He said he’s always impressed with the new concepts Larson brings to her art.
“Her show was split between conceptual and aethestic levels using handmade paper,” he said. “There’s this beauty part of the show and then another part that gets people thinking.”
He said the turnout was impressive as the gallery was packed when he arrived during the reception.
Ron Westman, a fellow Grays Harbor artist and friend of Larson’s, said she is also admired for her character.
“She knows who people are and keeps in touch with them; that’s important to her,” he said. “I think there’s a very definite essence of that in her work. Some of her social affiliations inform her work on a conceptual level; the ties that bond, friends and family. Those essences are very important to her and I think it shows clearly in her work.”
After weeks of preparation for the reception and showing of her work, Larson says she has poetry and art books to finish. Whatever she does, Larson hopes it impacts the greater community around her. “I always hope that people are touched or moved by something I make,” she said. “I hope people can look at things differently as well.”
Hometown: Born in Bellingham
Family: Husband of 14 years, John Larson, two cats named Dani and Finn
Hobbies: reading, enjoys being outside and go for a bike ride, swim or working in the garden
Most Inspirational Art She’s Seen: Getting to view Mark Rothko’s work in London
Favorite book: Too many to choose just one
Memberships: Member of the Seattle Book Arts Guild, Artist Trust and a patron member of the Harbor Art Guild