Daphne Minkoff

Preserving Old Seattle

<em>Wide Open Spaces</em>, collage, oil on canvas over board, 30"x40", 2019
Wide Open Spaces, collage, oil on canvas over board, 30"x40", 2019

Daphne Minkoff moved to Seattle in 1991 to be with her then-boyfriend and never left. She studied painting at Indiana University and Rhode Island School of Design. “I always say that IU taught me how to paint,” she says, “but RISD taught me to be an artist.” In Providence, she watched the city change, transformed by the demolition of older houses that were rapidly being replaced by new construction—a process she documented on her canvases. Later, upon moving to Seattle and witnessing yet more urban renewal, Minkoff began painting the structures of old Seattle. But even as she paints the urban landscape, she has tried to remain objective in her work. “There are lots of varying opinions about [Seattle’s gentrification], but I didn’t feel like I was making a statement, like this is bad or this is progress,” she says. “Just more like, look around you and see what’s happening. And then you get to decide.”

Minkoff drives through Seattle’s neighborhoods and stops to photograph condemned buildings or old houses that she finds delightfully quirky. She then prints the photographs and cuts them up to use as collage in her paintings. “I want to tap this feeling of an archaeological dig,” she says. “There are layers of material, and the material relates back to the subject matter, connecting it with the surface.”

Permission required for reprinting, reproducing, or other uses.

Noelani Kirschner is a former assistant editor for the Scholar.


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