Kendra Larson

Kendra Larson

Portland, OR, United States

About Kendra Larson

The first thing Kendra Larson learned to draw was conifer trees when she was seven. It was with her mom on a hike just north of Seattle. The air was crisp and it smelled like pines. There were mushrooms and slugs hiding in plain sight. Her mom showed her how to make the tree trunks darker on the sides to make them look cylindrical. Taking the time to observe the shadow shapes, Kendra worked the graphite to a stub. Larson was born in Salem, Oregon and lived there until she was eighteen. She moved to Portland and received her BFA from the Pacific NW College of Art and, following a residency at Caldera Artist Residency in Sisters Oregon, she began drawing large scale, charcoal landscapes. Full of awe and Romanticism, these drawings depicted the haunting mood and regenerative qualities of burnt forests. In 2006, she attended the New Pacific Studios artist residency in New Zealand, a land that was clear cut to make way for farming. These stark rolling hills gave her a better appreciation for how nature is understood in the Pacific Northwest: a balance between treating the woods as a recreational treasure, spiritual beacon, and economic commodity.

Later that year, Kendra moved to Madison, Wisconsin for graduate school. She quickly became homesick for the dewy NW air and the undulating mountainous horizon. Making images of her home made her feel better and that nostalgia was woven into her work. While at UW, Kendra taught undergraduates how to draw from observation and excited in them an interest in art. She also opened an art gallery called the Project Lodge. Juggling her painting, teaching, and the gallery was a challenge that, in the end, helped Larson develop a strong studio practice. Her thesis work consisted of forest paintings and painterly sculptures of woodland creatures. The work played up themes of mystery, fear, and myths tied to the wilderness.

In 2009, she received her MFA in Painting and Drawing and returned to Oregon. Kendra married Christopher Buckingham in 2010 at Silver Falls State Park. Today, they live in SE Portland with their son Oliver and dog Edie. Kendra is active in the art community; she’s part of a painting collaborative, an adjunct art professor at Portland State University, a volunteer at Disjecta Art Center, a committee member at Regional Arts and Culture Council, and a board member of Orlo, a non-profit that publishes Bear Deluxe Magazine. Her artwork continues to depict the northwest pines and mushrooms, but with a perspective of someone that has been away. As the saying goes, distance makes the heart grow fonder. Her paintings, formally speaking, balance painterly, expressionistic brush strokes with hard-edge illustrative elements. Conceptually, these paintings are mysterious and playful. (1)

Artist statement:
"In my practice I am trying to know the unknowable. My subject, the NW landscape, is the means by which I explore this type of melancholy. Landscape painting has historically helped clarify each generation's understanding of Place. My work is a collection of paintings that function within this tradition. My generation, marked by the uncertainty, nostalgia, and Romanticism brought on by economic instability, takes comfort in the nostalgic view of nature as an unchanging spiritual force. The playful and emotional quality of this work ultimately helps to shed new light on what we call landscape painting. The landscape is a particularly challenging subject: each piece can be full of personality, like portraiture, and abundant with unforeseen opportunity. The subtle poetry, complicated color, unconventional materials, and unique compositions make the process of creating exciting. In my art practice, I find that chaos, awe and fear are revealed in ways I could not plan when I begin a piece. "


MA, MFA University of Wisconsin, Madison
BFA Pacific NW College of Art


2017 Augen Gallery, Portland, OR
2016 Augen Gallery, Portland, OR
2015 Providence Hospital, Portland, OR
Lower Columbia College, Longview , WA
2014 Oranj Studios, Portland, OR
2013 Blackfish Gallery: Fishbowl Window Project, Portland, OR.
Window Project, PDX Contemporary, Portland, OR
Mt Hood Community College, Portland, OR
2012 RACC Installation Art Series, Portland Building, Portland, OR
Roger W. Rogers Gallery, Willamette University, Salem, OR
George Fox University, Minthorne Art Gallery, Newberg, OR
2011 Half Dozen Gallery, Portland, OR
Helzer Art Gallery, PCC Rock Creek Campus, Portland, OR
Launchpad Gallery, Portland, OR 2010:
Blackfish Gallery: Fishbowl Window Project, Portland, OR.
Half Dozen Gallery: Front Porch Project, Portland, OR
Orlo, Portland, OR
2009 Valentine's, Portland, OR
Common Wealth Gallery, Madison, WI
2008 Madison Municipal Building ARTSpace, Madison, WI
The Knapp House, Madison, WI
2006 Wairarapa Museum of Art and History, Masterton, New Zealand

2018 Umpqua Valley Arts Association, Roseberg, OR
Augen Gallery, Portland, OR
2017 High Desert Museum, Bend, OR
High Street Gallery, Salem, OR
PCC Sylvania, Portland, OR
2016 Aratoi Museum of Art and History, Masteron, New Zealand
2015 Pataphysical Society, Portland, OR
2014 Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, Novato, CA.
The Arts Center, Corvallis, OR
University of Nevada, Reno, NV
2013 Milk Factory Gallery, Chicago, IL
Gallery Homeland, Portland, OR
Jacobs Gallery, Eugene, OR
Marylhurst University Art Gym, Portland, OR
Nisus Gallery, Portland, OR
2012 Swarm Gallery, Oakland, CA
2011 False Front Gallery, Portland, OR
Boise State University, ID.
2010 Lewis and Clark College, Hoffman Gallery, Portland, OR
Gallery Homeland, Portland, OR
2009 University of Minnesota, Nash Gallery, Minneapolis, MN
2008 Overture Center for the Arts, Madison, WI
Domont Studio Gallery, Indianapolis, IN
2007 Overture Center for the Arts, Madison, WI
2006 Hall Gallery, Portland, OR
Gallery Homeland, Portland, OR