emily ann pothast

Biography

emily pothast

~ Visual artist, musician, writer and curator based in Seattle, Washington, USA ~

My current projects include a band called Midday Veil, a multimedia performance duo called Hair and Space Museum, a record and cassette label called Translinguistic Other and a blog of the same name. I also write art and music reviews for Decoder Magazine and City Arts and co-curate exhibitions at Seattle boutique and arts space Cairo.

I moved to Seattle in 2003 to attend the University of Washington, where I received an MFA with an emphasis in printmaking. Before Seattle, I lived in a town called Wichita Falls, Texas, and before that, I lived in rural Iowa.

Growing up in the Midwest put me into contact with some exceedingly strange, fascinating strains of religious fundamentalism. (Once you have been forced to pray about football in public school, there are few things about America that come as much of a surprise!)

That said, I was lucky. Although I would certainly categorize the fundamentalist leanings of the dominant culture in Texas as xenophobic, hostile, and bizarre, I wasn't abused by Christianity at home like so many of the other queer, arty kids I knew. And so instead of fleeing from religion, I delved deeper, starting down a path of learning everything I could about the history of Christianity, the non-canonical writings of the so-called Gnostics, the ancient near-Eastern and European cults from which Christianity emerged, and finally, the broader human impulse to organize societies around the subjective experience of faith.

In 2005, shortly after I received my MFA from the UW, I accepted a position as the Director of the Antique Print Department at Davidson Galleries, a job that essentially had me working as a professional art historian: researching, curating and appraising graphic works from the 15th to 20th centuries.

That same year, my parents were killed in a car crash on December 23, right between my birthday and Christmas.

Losing my parents was devastating. At a time when I was supposed to be building on the momentum of grad school, I lost a few years to a deep and cosmic depression. The silver lining, if you want to call it that, was that during this time I had experiences that helped me put the years of religious study into context. When I emerged from the darkness, I no longer saw "heaven" and "hell" as philosophical abstractions dreamed up by theologians, but had come to understand them as facets of a sort of subjective experience in which I had now, in a sense, partaken.

When I started making art again, it made sense to work in music; the medium of memory, time and eternity. Since 2009, my primary focus has been on recording and touring with Midday Veil, however I have recently begun exhibiting drawings and staging "performative lectures" exploring the relationship between mysticism and visual representation. In 2014, I was invited to give a lecture at Portland State University's Center for Public Humanities titled Drawing God from Direct Observation, and in early 2015, I expanded the concept into a show for Seattle University's Hedreen Gallery, which included an exhibition of my drawings, a slide lecture, and a scaled down version of my personal library installed in the gallery as a "divine observatory." Far from being finished, I see this project as more of a constantly-evolving culmination of a life's work, and look forward to seeing what forms these materials and ideas might take in the future.