Kerrie L.

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This Bears Witness Detail This Bears Witness
Credit: Kerrie L.
Artist Bio

Kerrie is a fine artist and professional visual merchandiser who returned to education later in life, having received her BA in Studio Art (Drawing) from Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA in 1996. She has always loved art, honing her coloring skills in the many coloring contests offered in her hometown grocery stores, and later taking most every art class her high school offered. Art has always been an integral part of her learning, growing, and healing, and she is thankful for the opportunity to continue exploring her craft within Lewis & Clark’s MA in Art Therapy program.

Mixed media art has always been a favorite medium of Kerrie’s, as she loves combining the malleable and the static, the precious and the mundane, and the precise and the spontaneous sides of what a piece of art can comprise. Over the years, she has dabbled in painting, sculpture, drawing, doll-making, assemblage, retail design, printmaking, mural work, jewelry-making, costume design, stained glass, calligraphy, millinery, fiber arts, pottery, and – of course, mixed media. She has treasured her opportunities to share these mediums with a variety of audiences, from joining the extravaganza that is children learning paint-pouring to witnessing seniors sharing generational stories over needlepoint. All forms of creative expression are valid and transformative, and she values every experience.

Since beginning this program, Kerrie has been exploring the supportive and therapeutic effects of response art, and researching and implementing a wide variety of art invitations and prompts for individual and group work within her Art Therapy Practicum and Internship sites. Utilizing a Person-Centered and Humanistic theoretical orientation, as well as a focus on Narrative and Jungian theories, Kerrie has utilized an array of creative interventions. After graduation, she hopes to become certified in the use of Sand Tray therapy and Soul Collage.

Kerrie lives in Portland, OR, with her fiancé and house pantheress, Gigi.

Artist Statement

This body of work was approached with several goals in mind, namely self-exploration, reflection, the processing of experiences, and deep self-care, all while exploring the artist’s history of religious trauma. As someone who values the power of symbolism, Kerrie wanted to include the concept of layers of trauma which a survivor can bear, which can be woven and re-woven during the creative process. Digging deeply into her past experiences, and utilizing personal therapy, journaling, research, and response art, Kerrie has worked to hone her personal symbolism around this traumatic layering process, and how it can include memories, growth, and transformation. In the tapestry piece, “This Bears Witness”, she uses different textiles to create a matrix within which a declaration of purpose, pain, and healing painted on gauze is woven. On top of these layers, additional application of paint and media are added, to add depth to the memories and journey these traumas have taken – including a connection to nature which has always been especially healing. At the bottom of the woven tapestry is a long fringe of fibers, buttons, and handmade beads which add additional texture and bear witness to the varied exploration within this overall journey.

In the mask piece, “What Lies Beyond”, Kerrie wanted to explore the inner-facing and outward-facing experiences and presentation shared by women and children living within a high-control religious group. The outward appearance is fashioned to portray the inability for such individuals to speak for themselves (or stand up for themselves), while their eyes are shielded from the truth of a life full of choice and freedom. Turning to the inward-facing side of the mask, the inner world of the victim can be seen – one of darkness, fear, and hiding from uncertain outcomes and abuses. The piece includes antique components, which speak to the lengthy history of high-control groups, and how traditional-facing characteristics can often bear secrets.

Accompanying these pieces is a collection of writings and images which help document Kerrie’s journey during this creative process. Featured are personal journal writings which explore Kerrie’s personal experiences growing up as a child within a deeply conservative religious home, an example of messaging included in her homeschooling materials, and drawings created in response to the topic of her homeschooling experience. Kerrie plans on continuing the practice of reflective artmaking, especially when working with clients whose personal traumas echo her own, as she feels that it helps to distinguish her personal bias, works to explore any possible countertransference, and gives voice to any triggers that might have come up within the therapeutic space. She believes that both artmaking and journaling can work together to help the therapist connect to their own personal traumas, which in turn fosters connection and openness to the experiences of their clients.

Kerrie is thankful for the opportunity to bring to light the traumas experienced by persons in high-control religious groups. As more documentaries, books, and articles enter the conversation around the harms of these groups, she hopes to support the healing and voices of these previously disempowered survivors as they come forward. This is a realm of social justice that she feels especially passionate about and plans to focus on this and related traumas in her future professional work whenever possible.

Thank you for bearing witness to this journey.