Hoffman Gallery showcases “Chanel: The Last Vampire”

Photograph by Aidan D'Anna

Halloween ended nearly a month ago, but for the Hoffman Gallery’s current exhibitor, the haunting season is still very much alive.

Every Tuesday through Sunday from 12 – 4 p.m. until Dec 3, visitors are free to explore Chanel Conklin’s exhibition featuring some of her most recent and chilling works.

Conklin is a prolific Portland -based artist who has been making surreal-and horror-themed art for the last four years. Shehasrecentlybecomeamemberof Elbow Room, an art studio program that meets regularly in the Hoffman Gallery, and serves as an opportunity for creators who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities. It is at these meetings that Conklin works with her personal art advisor, Jole Stotesbery. Over the course of three years, Stotesbery has helped Conklin hone her skills in Photoshop, while also supporting her other artistic endeavors.

“I started working with Chanel at a program called Portland Art and Learning Studio,” Stotesbery said. “This lasted for about two years until the program closed down due to COVID. Now that she is part of the Elbow Room, we’re able to work together much more frequently.”

While Conklin’s current showcase consists mainly of digital collage, sculptureandvideo,thesearenot theonlymediumssheworkswith. Shealsopaints,drawsandhaseven done some acting with Project Grow in the past, a non-profit art studio in Northern Portland that hosts the work of artists with developmental disabilities.

“I made a movie about ‘The Grudge’ at Project Grow,” Conklin said. “It was a long time ago. I made a haunted house at Project Grow. I crawled around in a bloody bathtub.”

Her creative process for digital collage,likemanyartists,resembles more of an investigation than a linear path.

“Her process always starts with an idea,” Stotesbery said. “She’ll search the internet to find imagery based on whatever she’s currently thinking about. For instance, it couldbeaboutacelebrity,apolitical event, a natural disaster, etc.”

Once Conklin finds the images she wants, she begins layering and manipulating them on Photoshop.

“Her process always ends with her adding brightness or contrast, color and saturation filters to her collages as a final touch,” Stotesbery said.

In this showcase, viewers will encounter themes from films such as “The Grudge” (2004, 2020) and “Blood: The Last Vampire” (2009), as well as Halloween and some creepy internet myths. Conklin also enjoys juxtaposing her work with pictures from her personal life, which often results in both silly and jarring imagery.

“I want to make people scared and happy,” Conklin said.

Although horror is her predominant theme, there are elements of humor in her work, perhaps to balance out the more grisly content.

Current real-world events play a role in Conklin’s work too, ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic to smaller stories she hears on the news. One such example is a tragedy in Ohio involving what was (supposedly) an accidental stabbing at a haunted house, known as the 7-Floors of Hell. This event occurred on Sept. 18, 2021, and is featured in several of Conklin’s works. There is also a miniature haunted house featured at the center of the exhibition.

So, if you are ever feeling the itch to see something freaky — or to laugh a little — feel free to swing by your campus gallery and support a local artist. Entry is free. This exhibition may feature something unlike anything you have ever seen before, and as all creators know, inspiration can be hard to come by. If you have artist’s block, or you want to see something fresh and new, give this exhibition a look.

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