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In My Studio - A Few Words with Dixie Parker-Fairbanks

In My Studio: A Few Words with Dixie Parker-Fairbanks about her Art, Influences and Motivations

Fairbanks in her studio

International travel has been one of the most important influences on my work," says Dixie Parker-Fairbanks, a striking woman whose artistic style certainly reflects both the cosmopolitan and folk art styles of the many countries she has visited. As an art student, she traveled to Italy and France, studying Renaissance painting. Later she accompanied her husband, potter Richard Fairbanks, through extensive sabbatical research trips to Central and Eastern Europe. The result of all this travel? "I can easily say that I have seen the best art the world has to offer."

Dixie moved to the Pacific Northwest upon her marriage to Richard Fairbanks, an art professor at Central Washington University. Coming from the flatlands of Iowa, she thought of the ocean and mountains in Washington state as exotic. Equally important was living a quiet, almost rural life in the Kittitas Valley where there were few enticements to distract either she or her husband from their work.

Her work then evolved from the classical training she received from German painter Karl Mattern, to a more abstract style influenced by New York Abstract Expressionist painters. "For several years my painting became completely abstract. However I never lost my love of draftsmanship and the human form. For two decades I worked on very simple themes-meditative women and couples, seated near open windows with views of European architecture. Colors, patterns, and composition were of paramount interest." Recently Dixie has begun working with collages, saying, "With collages, the possibilities are endless. I have carried home hand printed papers from Japan, Finland and Italy on recent trips. Those are supplemented with the wide variety of papers available through Daniel Smith. With so many choices available the trick is not to be seduced by the materials, and keep focused on the end result."

The most important influence in her life came from her late husband Richard Fairbanks who was one of her first teachers. "Because of Richard's sudden illness and death, I became more appreciative of emotional content. Now my work moves from lyrical and whimsical themes to more profound statements." The other person she is indebted to is painter-educator Nicholas Marsicano, from the Cooper Union School of Art and Architecture in New York. "Marsicano grounded my art in very practical terms, but also introduced me to thinking about painting in metaphysical terms. Much of what he passed on to me years ago, I am only now beginning to understand."

human form collage

Dixie Parker-Fairbanks combines her love of draftmanship and the human form with color, patterns and composition in her collages.

3 complete works