Allison McClay is a painter, illustrator and mural artist from Portland, Oregon. Her paintings examine historical figures and landscapes through a magical realism filter, creating rich, detailed images that tell a fragment of a story and invite a close look.
"Olallie Burns" Acrylic on Wood, 20"x16" 2022
"Sucia Saves Us" Acrylic on Wood, 20"x16" 2022
These two pieces are part of a new series I am working on that explores the experiences children have with life in a world that is inundated with crisis and climate disaster. In these pieces, the subjects are aware of the fiery landscapes, and though their reactions are not clear, they are definitely not alarmed. I am interested in how they navigate being children within this and what a healthy relationship to destruction and to existential doom could look like.
Both of these paintings are inspired by real places that have been affected by fires: Olallie Lake is in Oregon near Mount Jefferson and those burned forests are very real; Sucia Island is in the San Juan Islands in Washington and the fire in the distance is an interpretation of real wildfires that have become more and more common in the area.
more from Allison's perspective
View of Oneonta Gorge in the Columbia River Gorge area, where there was a massive fire in 2017. Allison's been hiking there her entire life, though many trails are still closed due to damage.
View of Olallie Butte, part of the Warm Springs Reservation, in the Jefferson Wilderness. Allison isn't sure when this burn happened, as there seem to be fires in the area often.
Row boating in Olallie Lake. My family has been camping around here for the past decade or so, since our previous favorite spot near Mt. Adams was destroyed by fire.
View toward the crater of Mt. St. Helens. 43 years after the eruption, signs of life are everywhere. Mountain goat fur caught on a bush blows in the wind.