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  • Arts & Culture
  • Issue 49

Studio Visit:
Heidi Gustafson

A cabin in the Cascade Mountains houses a hermetic artist—and her extraordinary world of natural pigments.
Words by Alexandra Marvar. Photography by Armin Tehrani.

About five miles from the United States–Canada border, across the vineyards and raspberry barrens and the oxbow bends of Washington state’s Nooksack River, a dead-end road hangs a sharp left, sending me in the direction of artist Heidi Gustafson’s cabin. A view of snow-capped Mount Baker (or, in Nooksack, Kollia-Kulshan—“white, shining, steep mountain”) disappears behind the trees as I get deep into its foothills. 

In the shade of a woodland is Gustafson’s one-story, three-room home, formerly a music studio. From the outside, it looks charmingly cobbled together, dressed up with sage and dandelions and a sun-faded garland of prayer flags. One would never guess it houses the world’s best known, broadest reaching and most carefully amassed collection of natural pigments—a rainbow-colored assortment of dust ground from an ancient iron-based, oxygen-rich substance called ochre.


This story is from Kinfolk Issue Forty-Nine

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