Awakening Songs


One of the duties that proved most difficult for me (after creating sixty-two works of art, of course) was writing about why I did it all. I found myself sitting in the gallery the morning of the opening of the exhibit, staring at the walls which bore several months’ worth of my life. My brain, empty. “Influence of place,” my comrade and curator, John, said to me.

Influence of place.

The following paragraphs flowed out of my fingers/brain/heart within a half-hour’s time.

My mother grew up the daughter of a wheat farmer in the middle of the eastern plains of Wyoming. The vast, lonesome, blustery landscape with its blues, greys, golds and greens captured my heart from a young age. These scenes saturate my senses and I could forever portray the colors of ripe grain and stormy skies, rusting farm equipment and the deep nighttime spilling out millions of stars. More than any other artist or medium, this earthly place has been my most meaningful influence.

The family photographs I have employed in some of my work are from our personal family archive, yes, but I believe they speak in quiet tones about larger themes. They serve as icons of a simpler time and convey a sense of strength, solidarity, faith, and abiding love of the kindred. My work is at once light-hearted and nostalgic, sparse and rich.

At least eight years’ worth of weathered boards, rusty hardware, old tin cans, vintage buttons and time-stained hymnals await me in my studio. In each piece that I produce I seek out the opportunities for nuance and connection between the painting and any of the found objects that lie scattered about. Some pieces that I find stay with me for four or five years before they find their final homes.

The portions of lyrics you see in these works have come from a well-worn hymnal that belonged to my grandmother Hazel. That book is simply titled, Awakening Songs. I have always had a profound love for the relationship between written word and imagery; exploring this connection was a significant step in the process of creating this body of work. My fascination with those who have gone before, my love for the lustre of age, and my belief in these time-honored missives of hope and peace have served soundly as my inspiration.

The well is deep.


  1. Mike

    I believe that your art is some of the most original that I’ve ever seen. Turning junk into beauty, could we be more Godlike?

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. kelli

    i just spent some time with the pictures of your collection…letting them sink in deep…i am speechless! the name of your collection says it so well. i was awakened by the beauty of the song each piece sang. thank you for sharing this part of you with us!

  3. Katy Bowser

    Evie, I love how your fingers/brain/heart connect words and images in such a loving and skilled way. I think one of the loveliest things about you and what you make is your integration. The integration of you and your work, the integration of words and images, the integration of apparently unrelated material, the integration of mind and heart and hands. They all go. Thank you for making something so good.

  4. Evie Coates


    Oh geez, guys. I gratefully accept your many kind words. I’m pretty proud of this body of work, and true *touchdown* with actual people with actual hearts is the thrillingest part.

    The yet-available work will soon migrate from its current home to a gallery in East Nashville for a short time, and then I’d like to perhaps put it up for sale on a little virtual table in the Rabbit Room Store. It’ll be my own little “tour” of sorts.

  5. Dan Taylor

    Evie…the minute I saw your work it made my tired eyes open wide and a smile ease onto my face. I love timeworn wood…paint. Things with history especially things that are worn smooth by the hand of loved ones now gone…things used and treasured by those gone home ahead…great stuff…I hope to see it in person one day…

  6. julie Lee

    Good Goggli mogglie Evie!!!!!……
    you are my favorite! I am undone by your Art and your person. I wish we could go on a “Junkyard Journey” and just paint and collect stuff and eat wierd food and film it all ! how fun would that be…..! wanna?
    -julie lee

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