Explore the “Deep Woods” of Crystal Schenk & Shelby Davis

“From Which All Things Start” Steel, cast glass 2021

The Nightingale Gallery at Eastern Oregon University hosts “Deep Woods,” an exhibition by Portland-based sculptors and husband and wife artist team, Crystal Schenk and Shelby Davis.

Schenk and Davis each have their own individual art practices and have been working together since 2009 creating large-scale sculptures, installations, and public artworks. They have completed ten projects together, including “From Which All Things Start” recently installed in front of Loso Hall on EOU’s main campus. 

Davis and Schenk will present a public talk about their work at noon on Friday, the 12th in Hoke Union Building, Room 339, and “Deep Woods” opens with a reception for the artists from 5 to 7 p.m. that evening in the gallery. The exhibition runs through Dec. 10. 

Schenk and Davis have a deep sense of belonging to the Northwest ecosystem. Their artwork explores notions of wilderness, geology, environment and home. Both consider the landscape a boundless resource materially and in inspiration. 

However, this year and a half of isolation and anxiety has made the artist team appreciate the landscape in new and sometimes unexpected ways. 

“Part of our shift in focus is driven by the ability to watch our surroundings change in a real way in real time,” Schenk said. “Climate change, forest fires, resource management, and political shifts have all impacted the west in a dramatic way within our lifetimes. It is scary and fascinating in a way that makes it difficult to look away.”   

The artwork in this exhibit is a tribute to the beauty, destruction and renewal the artists have recently witnessed. The raw materials, shapes and imagery all come from their time traveling through Oregon.   

“Each piece is an attempt at enshrining—a river, mountain or tree we are trying to embed in our memory as well as entities that helped shape them such as fire, flood and hubris,” the artists said. 

Schenk is a native Oregonian who spent much of her later childhood in the foothills of Mt. Hood and is intimately familiar with the area. She considers the mountains and forest as her shrine, and her work draws its meaning and strength from natural phenomena, memory, and familial history.

Davis grew up in Six Mile, South Carolina in the Blue Ridge foothills–a place whose natural beauty inspires him to this day. His parents were both artists and he grew up traveling to craft shows around the country, surrounded by artists who cared deeply about their craft and well-made objects. While he tried to find a different path by studying geology in college, it was almost inevitable that he would be drawn back into a life of making things.

The gallery, located in Loso Hall, is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Face masks are required of all campus visitors and social distancing is encouraged. 

“From Which All Things Start”Steel, cast glass 2021
This information was provided by The Nightingale Gallery at Eastern Oregon University