Rebecca Welti

(Portland) Artist Website Artist-in-Residence February Residency Year: 2016


Rebecca Welti joined Surel’s Place from Portland, Oregon for a one-month residency tin February of 2016. With a focus on carving wood, Welti explores the intersection of art and science by carving microscopic plankton into larger-than-life forms. Welti attended the University of Washington with an emphasis on sculpture. She later went on to study NW Coast Native art, which informed her carving style. Before relocating to Oregon from Alaska in 2008, Welti taught carving in the bush schools through the Alaska Arts Council and to the residents in the roadless village where she lived. Her work has been shown at Sitka Center for Art & Ecology and The Discovery Museum, Portland, and it can be found in private collections worldwide.

Having lived by the ocean for many years, Welti made the discovery one day of the microscopic world of plankton living just beneath the surface. Inspired by their forms, and the realization that these “tiny heroes provide half of our oxygen and are the basis of the planet’s food chain,” Welti began to honor plankton in her large-scale wood sculptures. “Plankton is vitally responsible for the health of the planet and this is the right time to get the message out in any way possible,” says Welti. This notion is what drives her to address this subject through several new tactile platforms—in addition to her sculptures—including trading cards, plankton ‘action figures’, and a board game, making the message especially accessible to the next generation.

During her time at Surel’s Place, Welti held two public events. The first was a workshop, entitled “BENEATH THE SURFACE: Drawing life forms as seen through the microscope.” Looking at creatures found in the Boise River, as well as some of her own samples, Welti led participants through various drawing exercises in order to bring these ‘tiny heroes’ into focus. The second event was an exhibition and art talk called “MY PERSONAL PLANKTON: The wood sculptures of Rebecca Welti,” during which the artist discussed her work and processes.