About M.E. Dunham (Elaine)


With my husband, Bill Moriarty, I have lived in Coos Bay, Oregon, for twenty-one years and have raised three sons.  When our youngest left for college in 2012, I suddenly had vast stretches of time alone and resolutely (but with little confidence) returned to my childhood passion for drawing and painting.

Coos Art Museum has helped me reclaim regular habits of making marks and manipulating color.  Since 2013, I have been taking nearly every studio art class offered at the museum–watercolor painting, acrylic painting, print making, mixed media, and experimental classes.  My instructors have included Pat Snyder, Liv Drahos, Allen A. (Tony) Adams, Eileen Sorg, Zoe Cohen, and Jesse Reno.  After a workshop in Yachats, OR, with Serena Barton, I have also started learning to create abstract works using mixtures of oil paint and cold wax medium. In the past two years, I have rarely worked to reproduce people, places, or objects in my paintings.  Most of my paintings now are abstract expressions of experiences, ideas, and aspirations.

My Amherst College education included studio classes in watercolor with Carl Schmalz plus drawing and oil painting with Oriole Farb, but English was my major area of study.  I continued to devote intense attention to words, history, and ideas as I pursued a master’s degree in theological studies at Harvard Divinity School.  I  considered entering professional ministry but never felt any certainty about “being called” to ministry.  (Having a headache every Sunday after church underscored my doubts.)

For nearly ten years, while my husband was studying medicine and completing his residency, I was employed as an editor of Lutheran periodicals, first by Fortress Press and subsequently by Augsburg Fortress.  Page design plus selection of photos and illustrations were among my responsibilities. Occasionally I also created illustrations for the publications.

Every once in a while, I have been a guest preacher at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Coos Bay, but I feel free to say more in paintings than I would in a pulpit.  Additionally, I find preaching exhausting, while painting energizes me.

My paintings have been exhibited in Coos Art Museum’s Biennials (2014 and 2016), in a solo show at Black Market Gourmet in Coos Bay (2016) and a joint show with my friend Geralyn Inokuchi (2017), at Pacific Park Gallery in Coos Bay (2016), at the Coos Bay Library (2016), at Southern Coos Hospital in Bandon, OR (2017), in two juried shows at Verum Ultimum Gallery in Portland, OR (2017), at Oregon Bay Properties in North Bend, OR (2017), and in the juried exhibit “Expressions West 2017” at Coos Art Museum.

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