Alaskan-born artist Erin McCarty creates gouache and watercolor paintings on paper and canvas influenced by the natural world, human nature, and the invisible realm of existence that carries on beneath the surface. After graduating in 2010 with a BFA in Illustration from the Pacific Northwest College of Art, Erin remained in Portland, Oregon where she worked at Pony Club, an artist-run gallery cooperative, for several years. After leaving Oregon in 2015, she split her time between Tucson, Arizona and her hometown of Valdez, Alaska. While in Alaska during the summer months, she assisted her high school art teacher in running a pop-up art gallery by the harbor, as well as created a series of work inspired by the region. She now lives year round in Tucson, where she is studying to become a registered art therapist and create a new body of related work.
“In my work I examine the psychological relationship between the unconscious and the environment, the spiritual experience, and the possibilities of an unseen world existing in support of our own. Drawing from my fascination with myth and traditional storytelling, I seek to draw connections between the powerful emotions felt in the natural world and the human imagination. This includes the intangible connections which elude our senses and plunge us into the realms of metaphysics, mythology, and metaphor.
Up to this point, my work has fluctuated between two extremes. One variation is influenced by my formal training in illustration and is composed of intimate watercolor paintings that attempt to capture the spirit of a place and those who inhabit it. Another rendering consists of large and highly detailed mixed media paintings of emotional states, interpretive anatomy, and incorporeal beings. Despite these differences in approach, what binds them thematically is an interest in where the external and internal worlds merge and influence one another. It is in this space where the universal conflict of wonder and fear is laid bare, and we can be prompted to recognize ourselves in a work of art.
I strongly believe art can be implemented as a boundary-breaking interpersonal tool that cultivates communion, compassion, and healing through a shared experience that can be difficult to articulate otherwise. Above all else, my work is deeply concerned with the sacred and therapeutic properties of art, and its unique ability to connect people of all backgrounds and phases of life.”