Washington State is home to a wide array of biodiversity and landscapes ranging from the sprawling hills of the Palouse to the rain forest on the Olympic Peninsula.
This concentration of ‘life force’ is what drew Michele Yugen Lewis, 40, to Bothell a decade ago.
Trained as an emergency veterinarian, Lewis said around three years ago she decided she needed to make a change.
“I just decided that I had done that enough, I just started doing things that I thought I might enjoy,” she said. “There just really comes a point when you can’t make any other decision.”
So she decided to find something she enjoyed doing and began experimenting with ceramics and it stuck. Since then, she’s been making everything from mandala bowls to masks and intricate teapots.
Much of her work incorporates the nude female figure and nature, often woven together.
Lewis said this symbolizes a realization of one’s true self underneath what people are expected to be and how they even think of themselves.
Many times her figures are sleeping, how Lewis thinks many people go through their lives.
For Lewis, finding art was what she said woke her up.
“Once you find yourself doing something that you love, it can change everything about you,” she said, sitting in her living room which doubles as a studio where she spends the majority of her work week.
Finding what she loved guided her from her childhood home of Hawaii, to Colorado and New York City before finally settling in Bothell.
Much of her work is also functional, including cups, teacups and plates.
While she has an Etsy store, Lewis said most of her business comes from word-of-mouth and she occasionally participates in area art shows, including the Kirkland Art Walk.
While she said she takes inspiration from nature, it’s often the little things she notices, like the structures of moss or gnarled trees that culminate to create something more than the sum of their parts.
It’s a philosophy she’s applied to her life and art.
“Realizing that you’re more than this small, personalized idea of who you think you are,” she said inspires her. “Really, that’s where our greatness comes from… you’re only as amazing as the entire universe.”
For much intricate pieces, Lewis creates them at her home, but for larger pieces she heads to Dahl Arts Studio in Kenmore.
For more information or to view her work, visit her website. (http://www.yugenarts.com/)