Michelle Lassaline started her mornings at the Mary Olson Farm ambling through cool pastures and woods, sketching and taking pictures as she went.
As spring turned to summe, and animals shed their thick, dark coats, and maples along the stream spread their broad, shade-giving leaves, she was there to see it.
In early October, Lassaline watched salmon return to the Olson stream to spawn.
Lassaline, Olson Farm’s first ever artist in residence, has since distilled her farm experience and many others into “Watershed,” the White River Valley Museum’s latest exhibit.
In the exibit are not only images of the salmon-filled stream at the Mary Olson Farm but also wild inlets of Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior, a serene river in mid-coast Maine, Kalaloch beach on the Olympic Peninsula, the churning dam at the Ballard Locks, and the Elwha River below the dam removal site and at its sandy delta.
Lassaline painted each work in her studio referencing photos she’d taken while she walked, hiked and canoed, and all of them capture how water filters through landscapes.
The Vashon Island artist’s modes of work range from drawing and painting to mask-making and performance, and her work is founded in fine craftsmanship and a reverence for nature.
Lassaline received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2014. In 2017, she became a National Parks Artist in Residence at Isle Royale NP, where she encountered a red fox for the first time.
She has created performance art pieces for the Tacoma Art Museum, Seattle Mayor’s Arts Awards, and the Nevada Museum of Art, among others, and has received funding from the City of Seattle, the Artist Trust GAP award, and most recently the Auburn Arts Commission to help fund this exhibition.
At 2 p.m. on Aug. 4, Lassaline takes museum visitors on an exploration of the Watershed exhibit, included with Museum admission or membership.
In 2018 the Mary Olson Farm hosted Lassaline after a competitive process, and the city of Auburn’s arts program made her time at the farm possible.