"This was taken in the West Indies during the calm of Hurricane Matthew."
- Damiano Austin
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“Maybe it’s passion and maybe it’s preordained but surely, being an artist is a gift. Art is my expression of life, it's a way of celebrating what the universe has built for itself and others.”
Damiano Austin pours herself into artwork every day. Undefined by one style, she captures visions from a lens that is distinctly her own. Creativity has always been a part of her story. Her artistic roots trace through the days when she played classical clarinet and destroyed her clothes after begging her parents for an airbrush in high school.
Aside from snapping shots, she continues to create soundscapes and still plays clarinet. When traveling with a group to Spain, on the off days, no one used the camera so she decided to give it a try. She fell in love with the idea of “capturing a vibe,” a distinct moment in time. She has kept her camera by her side since.
In 2016 Damiano was diagnosed with a rare breast tumor and underwent a series of surgeries and mastectomies that she describes not only changed her life but enlightened it. Abruptly facing a new reality made her pause during a fight or flight moment. She began to ask herself if this was the end, recognizing “the beginning was beautiful, the middle was beautiful, so what am I leaving behind? What was it all for? So I poured myself into my art. I went home that day and didn’t want to pick up the phone, everything became a bit more, real. You can panic but the clock still ticks, you can cry out to friends but the clock still ticks.”
This self-honesty and introspection made her pump art out, putting everything she felt and had into her work. Once you have really grasped the fragility of life, everything becomes different.
Through road trips along the west coast and capturing city life, Damiano cultivated her unique identity as a mixed-media Seattle-based artist. Damiano lived through and seeks to recreate immersive experiences, in love with the idea of “capturing the vibe” of a distinct moment in time.
The dream is to create an immersive gallery experience. She illustrates what she means when describing how she has grown to look at art. She describes a picture of hers that’s kind of like patchwork, with lots of greens and hues of earth tones. “When I look, it looks like sunlight, what would sunlight sound like? If I had to build that world what would it smell like? Would it smell like lemongrass? Would it be airy? Are you standing outside in that sunlight?”
Inspired by her art community in Seattle, Damiano also looks back to Warhol and Basquiat for inspiration. Her photo Shady LA is a direct homage to Warhol - when looking closely you see four mimicked squares, Warhol’s signature pop-art effect. She had a lot of fun tampering with the photograph, especially the colors. The Utah Red and Utah Gold works have a similar style - she took them in passing while driving along the coast. she had never seen Utah in that light or the sun in that way, and now those pieces allow her to hold onto the Damiano version.
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