Celebrating Oregon’s Natural Beauty through Art and Expression


Central Oregon Artist Dawn Emerson uses mixed media, printmaking and pastel to create dynamic and colorful compositions that merge abstraction and realism. The exhibition takes its title from the realization that we, like all living things, are on this earth so briefly—we are just passing through.

TERREBONNE — This month, the Art in the Governor’s Office program is showcasing the talents of Dawn Emerson. Emerson is an Oregon-based illustrator and multi-media artist.

Her work honors the landscape, vegetation and animals of Central Oregon. 

“My connection to the environment has grown immensely since I moved to Oregon,” said Emerson. “It really changed my worldview, and showed me how temporary we are as humans. This environment affords you an expansiveness you won’t find elsewhere.” 

Just Passing Through, the show’s central piece was inspired by the wild horses of the Steens Mountain Wilderness area. 

“I don’t ride very much, but I’ve gone out into the Steens Mountain area, and other mountain areas, and just followed the wild horses,” said Emerson. “Because horses are a part of this area, you begin to think, without even meaning to, what does the ground feel like beneath them?And how do they glide over it, when it is so incredibly rocky and hard, and difficult to move over? I think about this when I paint.” 

Laughing, she continued, “It allows me get into the mind of the animal a bit more, and maybe I’m fooling myself, but it’s fun to think that way.” 

In each brushstroke, it is clear Emerson pays homage to her community. 

“People plant roots in this rocky, very porous soil, and thrive. So it’s rare that you find a person who doesn’t have a strong connection with the land here,” she said.

“You may not set out to do that certainly, but the landscape certainly influences you. You become more subtle, and you begin to notice things you wouldn’t have otherwise, because you appreciate the land.” 

The exhibition is presented by the Oregon Arts Commission and the Art in the Governor’s Office Program, which honors exemplary Oregon artists.  

“It was an honor to be invited and I hope people enjoy the show,” said Emerson. “I hope they see these animals in a different light, it’s not an illustration, it’s about the spirit of these animals, and how the spirit of a place and the vegetation can inspire us to make better decisions about the world, and about how we treat each other.” 

About Author

Ryleigh Norgrove is a Communications Fellow with the Office of Governor Kate Brown.

Comments are closed.