Claudia Gerkin, featured artist for August, was born in Sterling, Colorado but refers to herself as “a desert rat” because she was raised in Arizona.
Like most artists, Claudia started drawing early, but instead of stick figures, she drew stick desert scenes, with mountains, a setting sun, and a cactus or two in the foreground. At about 10 she started doing pottery when her family decided to try ceramics.
In high school, she took art, drafting and wood shop. Then in community college, along with art, she studied biology and zoology. Or as she says, “I was having a hard time choosing between science and art.”
On entering the University of Arizona, she decided on ecology and evolutionary biology. But within a couple of semesters, she changed to art and eventually earned Bachelor of Fine Arts, emphasis in Graphic Design.
While going to school, Claudia worked at a screen print shop, and her first job after college was at a new startup company, where she did logos, business cards, packaging, advertising layouts, business forms, etc.
Then, after living in San Diego for a few years, Claudia moved to Bisbee, an artsy town in southeastern Arizona. She opened a little shop called Claudhoppers, which sold T-shirts imprinted with her art, other hand-made items and custom screen printing. For about five years, she also did substitute teaching.
“Then,” reports Claudia, “life brought me to the beautiful Oregon Coast, where I worked as a substitute teacher at Brookings High School for eight or nine years. I wondered why it took me so long to get here.”
Retired in 2010, Claudia sees art in everything, ex-pressing it through wood sculpture, watercolor, technical ink, pencil, photography, embroidery, pottery and printmaking.
“I never spend enough time to perfect any of these. I just really enjoy the doing of it,” she says, adding, “I believe the natural world is the only pure form of art. We can’t compete with that, but we can attempt to create something that is pleasing to the eye.”