Sierra Stinson

by Sean Frazier | October 10, 2013

Sierra Stinson is the founder and curator of Vignettes, one of the most interesting gallery spaces in Seattle. The gallery also happens to be Sierra's apartment where once or twice a month, for one night only, she pushes her furniture into her closet to show works from some of Seattle's most exciting up-and-coming artists. Since it opened in 2010, Vignettes has quickly gained a cult following in Seattle's art scene. The increasing number of people who happily cram into Sierra's one bedroom apartment is not just a sign of its growing popularity but also the viral affect Vignettes has had on community interaction. We caught up with Sierra recently to talk about the concept behind Vignettes and her vision for this DIY gallery.


"Vignettes was inspired by my experience living and studying in Glasgow. There were a lot of DIY gallery spaces and people opening up their homes to show art there. It was a very natural thing within the art school I attended as well as the art community in Glasgow. There was a DIY exhibition space in particular that I went to that was really inspiring, it was a 5 bedroom apartment of art school students and they had moved all of their furniture into one of their bedrooms and the other four had site specific installations in each one. There were performances happening in the bathroom and the kitchen was turned into a proper bar. It was beautiful. That experience was sort of the first seed planted, specifically, as far as a concept of art-in-home for me.... Growing up I was used to hosting various kinds of events and my family's home was always open to people so I've always had that mentality of being very open in that way. Once I realized my own living space didn't really have much, it easily translated into the potential for a gallery." 

"I'm drawn to artists that are very driven and create works that resonate with them in the moment, as humans, rather than perhaps what they think the world needs or what galleries would prefer. I appreciate works that are true to the artist and in some way are a reflection of themselves. I gravitate to creators that take risks and are willing to do works that are site specific. And I definitely appreciate artists that don't work within just one medium and are willing to try mediums that they aren't necessarily familiar with. Going on studio visits and seeing the direction and progression artists are taking at that given moment is a very fascinating experience. I love that within a few years someone can take a completely different direction in their work."

"The most exciting part about preparing for a new exhibition is the dialogue that takes place with the artist. The conversations that transpire from the initial meeting with an artist on to the studio visits and then walking through the Vignettes space, all the while talking about the possibilities and the range of work that can be done in that space- it's a very fun and collaborative experience. Its great being able to bounce ideas off of each other because out of that sprouts more of where these artist will go with their work. The dialogue with artists is always so inspiring for me." 

"One thing I've enjoyed about doing vignettes is that I've never really defined it and I don't really plan on doing so. I want Vignettes to have many iterations as it's reputation continues to become more widespread. Also the name itself suggests as much. In the next year we plan on shifting the programming to fewer exhibitions in order to focus on site-specific installation work. This will open the space up to more expansive and immersive projects. As far as Vignettes goes, I can only think a year ahead. And I like that. In five years time?- Well, we'll see." 
Photos by Forest Eckley
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Posted in Art