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The first time I found myself in Ashland Oregon was January of 2009. I spent a year and a half indulging in the beauty of the landscape. My favorite activity was to walk in the woods. I often would go alone on long hikes, the trees were my companions; being with them is one of the most uplifting ways to spend an afternoon! It was a beautiful and peaceful existence to be able to walk from my home to the forest in a matter of minutes. But I was called away, and moved to the city of New Orleans the following year.
Visiting New Orleans had piqued the discourse of the world of humans to flood my spirit— and at the time my heart longed for that soulful human inspiration!
When I lived in New Orleans and spoke of the beauty of Southern Oregon I was often asked; “Why would you ever leave?!” to which I would respond that I had to go, because if I hadn’t left I would have turned into a tree. New Orleans was the chrysalis to my formation as a woman. I felt empowered to be myself there, inspired by a community of art and eccentricity.
And then, my love and I decided to come back to Ashland to start our family together. We were both raised with a backdrop of wilderness, and we want that for our children. This series of paintings has been a part of embracing the tree in myself as I embrace motherhood and seek to grow roots for my family and home. We left New Orleans 8 months pregnant with our daughter and arrived to the forest along Anderson creek in Talent. “Tree #1” was the last painting that I started in New Orleans, and the last painting that I worked on before my daughter was born at our home in Ashland. The rest are my first paintings after becoming a mother.

Shele 8