Carolyn Hazel Drake is an artist & art educator based in Portland, Oregon. I met Carolyn back in 2014 when I used to live and own a shop in Portland. She has been a customer & supporter of Dea Dia since then and we have had a major customer crush on her. Her mediums include textiles and porcelain and she melds modern and minimal sensibilities with folk art imagery and iconography. Carolyn currently has a show on view at Guardino Gallery in Portland. Her work can be viewed and purchased through their site & if you're in Portland she can lead you on a (socially distanced) tour.
Describe your personal style. Where do you shop for clothing? How do you style your jewelry? Are you an everyday jewelry wearer or special occasion?
My personal style falls under the umbrella of post-goth, which I mean in a very loving and nostalgic way. I’m a third-generation Oregonian and was a teenager in the nineties in Portland. I was definitely the only kid in marching band wearing false eyelashes and a black wig. So there’s still an echo of that. I change my hair a lot -- I have a creative partnership with my friend & hair stylist, Dani Myers at Villa Villakula, that’s going on ten years now. Keeping my eyebrows and fingernails, glasses, and of course jewelry, on point is crucial. In addition to my art practice, I work for Portland Public Schools as a district leader for Visual Arts education, so looking polished is a key counterpoint to having lots of tattoos.As a textile artist, the quality and type of fabric in my clothing is important. I often overdye pieces to dull the colors and make them feel a little more custom -- recently I found an oversized, drapey 100% wool jacket from Jones NY on clearance at Nordstrom Rack (love a bargain). Unfortunately it was extremely chartreuse -- a beautiful color, but not for me. But I was able to overdye and hot water wash it so that now it’s this wonderful murky olive green. I wear jewelry everyday but confess that the moment I get home, I take it all off immediately. It’s part of my introvert-armor for facing the world. (Dea Dia's note: this is the best thing you can do to prolong the life of your jewelry!)
Tell us about your work. What are you doing to stay sane during the "Stay at Home" mandate?
I live a double life as an artist & art educator, and I’m doing both at the moment under stay-at-home orders. In my job for Portland Public schools, I’m part of a team of incredible women and we have been doing our best to support all of our arts teachers as they pivot and try to engage students in learning through a digital format for the rest of the year. A recent project has been to organize and assemble thousands of kits of art materials to distribute at our nutrition hubs throughout the city -- we are doing our best to address inequities in access to resources during this time. It brings me great joy to think our kiddos will be nourished creatively as well as through food. We also have amazing partners at the Portland Art Museum; they have been stalwart collaborators.
In my creative practice, I have been preparing for a show for the last few months -- inevitably, the ideas and implications of the work shifted as our reality did. My art requires a lot of hand-stitching, and that has been reassuringly familiar to turn to as a part of my days. I ended up putting together a digital catalog for this show to try and capture my thinking and process -- you can check it out here.
All These Routes, Evident and Hidden by Carolyn Hazel Drake
Cotton, wool, linen
What drives you creatively? Where do you get your inspiration from?
I studied English Lit. & Architecture in college, and for many years I was a high school Art & English teacher. So words and images have always been very intertwined to me. Books help me to understand what I think and why I think it. I tend to be drawn to books that don’t seem at first glance to be connected and then, voila, some common thread emerges. For instance, my current work integrates imagery based on tokens of invisibility in folk tales and stories, and I’ve been been reading Akiko Busch’s How to Disappear: Notes on Invisibility in a Time of Transparency, and Felicity Fenton’s brilliant User Not Found. I am constantly inspired by the creative work of a phalanx of women artists and writers that I like to think of as my unofficial godmothers: Rachel Whiteread, Adrienne Rich, Agnes Martin, Marina Abramovic, Louise Gluck. I’d add Tauba Auerbach to the list but she’s younger than I am!
I also have to add -- I am part of a family of creative women. My mom had a quilt store for many years and still teaches out of her home studio, and my sister has an amazing textiles webshop, Handcraeft. But most inspiring to me is my daughter, Sylvia Dresselhaus, aka Leodrune Witchcraft. She was born when I was a teenager and is the best damn thing that ever happened to me. She has forged her own distinctive path as a creative spirit and I count on her as a confidante and dispenser of real talk.
What is your greatest extravagance?
The aforementioned manicures -- which of course at the moment are off the table! I was poor as a pauper for ages and still can’t quite reconcile my feelings about the whole thing, and I actually don’t enjoy the experience -- but the result is so satisfying. It makes me feel like there’s no problem I can’t solve.
What is your desert island album? Who is your favorite visual artist and why?
Angel Olsen’s All Mirrors; I would hope there’s a case of wine on that island as well... I can easily imagine looking tragically out across the water with her plaintive crescendos and a glass of red. I have imaginary love affairs with visual artists that can last for months or years -- right now it’s Esther Stocker. She’s just so damn cool.
What are your favorite spots in your city? (shops, bars, restaurants, sights)
This one’s painful to write about, since just about everything is closed. Favorite restaurants that I am longing for include Radar, Les Caves, Luce, & Angel Face. You haven’t truly lived unless you’ve been to Powell’s Books. I live in St Johns, which is the most awkwardly placed neighborhood on the north edge of Portland. This means it has changed much more slowly than other parts of Portland, and I love that. The St Johns bridge is a joy to drive across and I love the view of my city from it. Gracie’s Apizza is a favorite spot in the neighborhood, conveniently close to the best dive bar, Slim’s. Nearby in Kenton is the excellent boutique/record shop/restaurant triumvirate Mantel, Speck’s Records, & Swift & Union.
How & when did you discover Dea Dia and what speaks to you about the brand?
Let’s see, I think it was back in 2013 when I first found Dea Dia’s iconic crystal pyrite cuffs at a shop on Hawthorne Blvd. I immediately loved the mix of raw and refined. A year or so after that I encountered your booth at a craft fair and saw a broader range of your jewelry -- and realized you were the designer of my favorite cuff!
Carolyn in a one of a kind, vintage Dea Dia ring
What Dea Dia pieces do you currently own and how do you wear them? What Dea Dia pieces are you eyeing for your next purchase?
Oh boy. It’s a little ridiculous, to be honest -- I think I have at least ten pieces. During the time Dea Dia had a brick-and-mortar store, I lived right around the corner. So I regularly stopped in to see what was new, and also bought pieces as gifts for family & friends. I’m lucky to have a couple of one-of-a-kind pieces, including a silver ring with tourmalinated quartz that I wear all the time. I teach workshops regularly -- it’s a confidence booster to have a statement ring when you know folks will be looking at your hands all day! Favorite Dea Dia pieces include the Umpqua necklace & Sol hoops. Up next, I’ve got my eye on the hand-forged sterling silver chain necklace and the turquoise & opal mobile earrings. Gorgeous!
FIND CAROLYN ON INSTAGRAM, HER PERSONAL WEBSITE CAROLYNHAZELDRAKE.COM AND VIEW HER CURRENT EXHIBITION AT GUARDINOGALLERY.COM.
carolynhazeldrake is my daughter and l couldn’t be more proud! It’s great to read about her. Sometimes l find out something l didn’t know!! She is a marvel. Thanks for writing about her. Betty
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