Artist Profile: Lynn Woolson

Megan Hearst, Staff Writer

If you’ve ever seen an art piece at Whitman and wondered how it ever got assembled, chances are Lynn Woolson is behind it. Woolson is the force behind a lot of a lot of what keeps the art department running as the Safety and Technical Assistant, and after four years of hard work, Woolson is progressing on to new stage of her career.
Woolson came upon her job through a series of happy accidents. She first came to Walla Walla via Portland due to her husband’s job and found a new opportunity here. “I moved and felt like this would be a nice way to get involved with the community,” said Woolson. The position was originally supposed to last four to six months, but soon became permanent, and Woolson settled in as a part of the Whitman community.
Despite serving as a member of the art department, Woolson’s previous career was in the criminal justice system. “My work was not even that often with students, my background is with convicts, so this is a little brighter,” stated Woolson.
This transition was easy for Woolson who has been an artist throughout her career. “I am not related to art, but I’ve had art in my background, welding and woodworking have always been there”, says Woolson. Welding and sculpting have always been her primary format. Her job as Safety and Technical Assistant is in many ways a combination of her artistic and interpersonal skills.

Lynn Woolson
Photo by Keifer Nace.

Woolson’s job covers a lot of the tasks which keeps the art department afloat. She helps assemble and move the pieces, instruct the students, assemble the materials, hire the models, and, in the midst of all this, keep everyone safe.

The sheer amount of errands to run makes the day interesting. “I do a lot, it’s very fun, no day is the same,” said Woolson. The variety in her tasks makes for some interesting situations, including the time she and several art department assistants had to figure out how to get a “house” the size of a truck out of the building. Her role in the art department is “mostly about getting people to do the things we want to do and get accomplished.”
The skills Woolson learned in the criminal justice system have ultimately served her well as an advocate and assistant for students. “What I have found is that the students are really busy, they have a lot on their plate, so I can be a sounding board, I can be assistance, I can alleviate their stress,” said Woolson.

This dedication has paid off as she seen the pieces of the students she has aided, primarily in her favorite formats, welding and sculpting. But regardless of the art form, Woolson always tries her best to form both a physical and a personal support system for the students and their art. “My role is often times just a sounding board to their process, since I’m not grading them and I’m not encouraging them to go in any direction, it’s easy for me to say ‘what about this,’” she said.
In August, Woolson will be stepping down from her position at Whitman. She is returning to her roots and working on her art from her home studio. Woolson works in welding, sculpting, and clay, creating many indoor and outdoor pieces displayed among galleries in Walla Walla. Though she will be leaving her position at the end of this year, the contributions she’s made can be seen in the pieces of all the students she has helped.