Anchorage Artist: Erin Pollock

One of the best parts of getting older is starting to see the people you’ve known for years come into their own.   I love watching the people around me doing amazing things with their lives.  It’s so interesting to see the journeys people take, and sometimes, observing from the fringes is the most exciting – being too close can limit your perspective (like when you look at your own life and think it’s been an uneventful year, and then you realize that you got married, started a new job, bought your first home, and got a dog).

A journey I’ve followed from afar is that of Anchorage-born artist Erin Pollock.

We both went to the same elementary school, and, being incredibly mature at one year older, I was in charge of walking a Erin and another friend part way home. My first clear memory of meeting her was when I was in second grade and she was in first grade, slogging our way through the snow.

We both ended up at Whitman College, where our paths crossed again in the art studio (but only peripherally, and probably only for me).  I was taking my first art class, more for fun and a love of playing with paint than anything else (like real talent), and I loved wandering through the studio (messy, paint spattered, filled with all sorts of amazingness) and looking at other student’s work.   Two of my roommates were studio art majors, so any time I fell in love with something, they could usually identify the artist.  I found a reoccurring theme – I’d fall in love with a painting, and it would inevitable end up being one of Erin’s pieces.

Back in Anchorage a couple years later, I saw her work in a coffee shop – not knowing it was hers, I moseyed up to see who had painted something so special, and was delighted to see Erin’s name once again.  Although I really wanted to buy one of her pieces, I was (am) on a print budget instead of an original budget, so settled for gazing at her work on latte runs.

I bumped into Erin again a few years ago.  She and her friend Steph (another Whitman grad) had formed Kesey Pollock, and had won a bid on a 1% for Art project in Mountain View, casting faces of residents and turning them into lamps.  The project is truly inspiring: 52 Faces of Mountain View. Each face is from someone who lives within a mile of the installation.

I was lucky enough to tour Erin and Steph’s art studio while they worked on 52 Faces with another friend from college, Holly. The studio was in a quonset hut by Ship Creek and jammed full of colorful bits and pieces of art supplies and test faces. It was also COLD (so cold that I’m surprised one of them didn’t get a little bit frostbitten during the projects).

We drank cheap beer and shivered and marveled at the fact that we’d all come from Whitman, and were all in Anchorage, but each of us was pursing distinctly different paths.  Erin and Steph were creating meaningful public art for Anchorage, Holly was an Olympian who was (and is) part a group of athletes changing the face of cross-country skiing in Anchorage (actually, the U.S.), and I’d chosen a corporate path, doing marketing and communications for a multidiscipline design firm.

Sometime after the project had been unveiled, Erin had a sale to sell off some of the bits and pieces in the hut as she prepared for her next adventure, somewhere warmer I think.  I was thrilled to purchase my first piece of Erin Pollack art (an original, nonetheless!) at a deep discount as well as some post cards of the pieces I’d loved in the coffee shop a few years before.  I think the original that I bought (the photo above) was a smaller piece she did when working out how to capture movement for some of her larger work.  I love it – graceful, energetic, and orange.

Recently, I heard about the latest Kesey Pollock project:  Melting Bodies.  Click the link and watch the video, it is SO COOL.

I love that they’re using Kickstarter to fund this project. Kickstarter is a form of crowdsourced all-or-nothing funding for creative projects. Here’s the official description from the website:

Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. Kickstarter is full of ambitious, innovative, and imaginative projects that are brought to life through the direct support of others.

Since our launch on April 28, 2009, over $350 million has been pledged by more than 2.5 million people, funding more than 30,000 creative projects. If you like stats, there’s lots more here.

Erin and Steph offer a variety of project related rewards for funders.  I can’t wait to choose my full color print of the body melting! Here’s more about the project and their journey from their website:

It has now been almost 4 years since we made our first snowman. Since then, we have cast over 400 faces and dreamed of advancing our work to include full bodies. We have spent time observing the harsh and awe-inspiring Alaskan landscape as glaciers melt and land erodes. We have accompanied friends through happy and terrible moments, and watched political movements from across the globe. We are inspired to embed these concepts of change and transformation inside the fragile human body, reflecting both the internal emotional human landscapes and natural environments that affect us all.

Last fall we were accepted to the MacDowell Colony, the oldest artist colony in United States. It is an AMAZING place for artists to get work done. At MacDowell we were able to teach ourselves to cast full bodies, engineer the melting surface in order to deal with such large quantities of molten wax, and design a non-toxic material palette of melting substances. We have started using butter, Crisco, and food pigments and we are close to our goal of making this process increasingly friendly to our environment and our own bodies…ideally the melting process should smell like baking cookies!

All of these new technical understandings and visual vocabularies have prepared us to create melting portraits that change and transform in more compelling ways. We hope you join us in making these images and videos possible.

I love that they want the melting process to smell like baking cookies. You can read more about their project here. Doesn’t it seem like the perfect blent of so many styles of art? Performance, video, drawing, photography?

If you like their work and their story, support their project!  They have 18 days left to reach their goal of $31,000.

I hope I get to watch Erin’s journey (and Steph’s too!) for years, purchasing her work along the way when I can.

Author: Gretchen Fauske

I love Anchorage. I love what it is, what it's been, and what I dream it will be. I share my adventures with DJ (my husband), my fabulous family and friends, two frenchies named Grover and Teddy, and now, all of you. If you love Anchorage too, get in touch - guest posts are welcome!

2 thoughts on “Anchorage Artist: Erin Pollock”

  1. I love this piece Gretchen, but I think I tell you that about every post. I’m happy to have an update on Erin and Steph as I met them a couple of years ago at a Whittie event here in town. What wonderful women with immense talent, kind of like you with words. I’m going to share this on the Whitman Facebook page and with folks there in hopes they’ll do an update on these two remarkable women. Another example of Whitman as a college that changes lives.

    1. Thank you so much Mary. Whitman really does change lives. I knew it would during the years I was there, but even though I’m nearing my 10 year reunion, the people I met through Whitman make my life richer every day. You’re one of those people:)

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