John Boylan’s Next Conversation: “On Becoming an Artist in Strange Times”

Event Date: Tuesday, April 12, from 7 to 9 pm

Admission is free. Tell your friends.

This roundtable conversation series happens at Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle ( For more information on the series, call John Boylan at 206-601-9848.

If you want to link to this announcement, you can do so at

This month, we’re talking with several of the student artists from the University of Washington’s Strange Coupling project, which brings together working artists with current UW students.

The Guests (see bios below)

Stephen Sewell (UW PhotoMedia MFA student)

Rodrigo Valenzuela (UW PhotoMedia MFA student)

Leanne Grimes (UW painting MFA student)

Christopher McElroy (UW sculpture MFA student)

The Story

This Thursday at Vermillion (4/14) is the opening or this year’s installment of Strange Coupling. Since 2002, the annual Strange Coupling project has brought together current UW students coupled with working artists from the Seattle area to cooperate on art projects ( This year, jurying help came from Scott Lawrimore of the Lawrimore Project, and Michael Van Horn, curator of The Joseph and Elaine Monsen Photography Collection at the UW.

Last week a few of the students were hanging the show at Vermillion, and we got to talking. They had some very interesting things to say about art and about being students in these strange times, and it seemed to me that this would be a good conversation to broaden out to you all.

The idea is to talk about the experience of being young artists, about being students in this strange time; about the art that the artists are making and about the Strange Coupling project; about how the budget cuts are changing art education at the university level; about how many of the students in the project are working with photography, and what that’s like as the world of photography undergoes revolutionary change.

There are nine student artists and eight working artists in the show. I set this up too late to invite them all, but I hope they all come. And I hope you come as well. This should be a most excellent conversation.

The Guests in Detail

Stephen Sewell was born in Richland Center, WI. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Photography from Northern Michigan University in 2009. Afterward he moved to Syracuse, NY where he taught courses as well as assisted with the Artist in Residence program at Light Work/Community Darkrooms. Currently he is a graduate student in the School of Art at the University of Washington and an employee at the Frye Art Museum. (

Leanne Grimes was born in Philadelphia in 1983. She moved to the suburbs after a few years in the city and then to NYC at the age of 18. She left after a year and a half to pursue traditional painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philly, while also pursuing her bachelor’s at University of Pennsylvania. She lived and worked in Philadelphia until she moved to Seattle in 2009.

She is graduating this June from the UW MFA program. She currently uses landscape imagery to explore the illusion of nature that we have constructed over the past century of urban development and suburban sprawl. The current body of work is called Plastic Nature. She will be showing it at the UW Sandpoint Gallery in Magnuson Park on May 16th and at the Henry Art Gallery May 28th. Upon graduation she plans to stay in Seattle. She would like to find a space to operate as a group studio with community art workshops and exhibition space. “I do miss the sun, though,” she writes.

Rodrigo Valenzuela is a Chilean visual artist, He studied photography at the University of Chile and philosophy at the Evergreen State College. He is currently a first-year MFA student at the University of Washington.

Christopher McElroy received his BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University.  He has exhibited his art extensively across the United States, including a recent show at the Missoula Art Museum in Montana.  He has taught glass workshops at Red Deer College, Kyoto University of Art & Design, the Penland School of Crafts, & the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design.  He is currently an MFA candidate in sculpture at the University of Washington. He creates sculptural forms, environments, video, and photographs that combine ideas of domesticity and wilderness. An investigation of bodily function and awareness in relation to degrees of psychological comfort and sanctuary; and human engagement with food sources greatly inform his ouevre.



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