“I was always drawing in notebooks,” recalls Dawn Trimble of her earliest creative endeavors. “I would visualize how you would move through space and what it would feel like and what the colors would be.” So, it’s not surprising that she ended up pursuing interior design, obtaining her bachelor’s degree in the field from Auburn University and then a Master's in architecture from Georgia Tech before going to work for the renowned firm Gensler. But last year, she made a switch, shifting from design to fine art—a change spurred in equal parts by the COVID shutdown and, as Tremble puts it, “the worlds' awakening to systemic racism.” At a time when things felt uncertain, Trimble says, “I offered the intangible through art: beauty, hope, and grace.”
“As a former interior designer and architect, I understand the impact art can have in a space and within a person's soul,” she says. And, she “comes to the work with a project statement, as we did in architecture school.” For the first collection she did during the height of the COVID pandemic, “I thought of the word ‘resilient,’ and that led to my ‘Resilient Landscape’ series. I picked the word apart and then thought about what it would look like to communicate something like that. Because you can’t paint resilience, or hope, or joy—but you do something in the spirit of that.”
While the theme of resilience may be universal—especially over the past year—Trimble’s work is also deeply personal: “I’m just painting what I’m feeling,” she says. “And there’s also the component of being a black woman in this space.” That perspective was extremely important to Trimble in the summer of 2020, when conversations about racial injustice rippled across America. “I wanted to acknowledge the reality of what’s happening, but I’ve always been an optimistic person and faith and joy are huge to me, so it’s important to have that happiness in spite of what’s happening,” she says. “You can grieve and still have joy; you can endure hardship and still have joy. And that was something I really wanted to communicate through painting—it was healing.”
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Trimble’s work ranges from watercolor to collage (which she refers to as “more architectural” for its assemblage element). And while it’s a departure from her design work, it comes from the same source: “At Auburn in design school, we used watercolor in our planning because it could go from very light to very dark. And that felt right for what I wanted to express.”
This week, Trimble launched her latest collection, Reverie, which, like all of her work, “is very intuitive,” but informed by a background of the color theory she studied in school. “I think because I’m coming from that background, I am always thinking about things like light and space and texture while I’m creating.”
Tremble first began selling her art casually and in pop-ups in 2018, but the events of 2020, combined with a COVID layoff, pushed her to pursue painting full-time. "I think COVID really showed me that people were excited to have those pieces of joy or inspiration—and I was very excited and honored to provide that."
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