by Lela Autio
7 Color Linocut, 1989
Lela Autio was born and raised in Great Falls, Montana but has spent most of her life in Missoula. She holds a B.A from Montana State University, which she attended on an honor scholarship, and an M.A. from the University of Montana. A former founding resident at the Archie Pray Foundation in Helena along with her husband, Rudy, and Peter Voulkos, she taught art at Hellgate High School in Missoula for many years and raised the couple's four children. Her work has been exhibited in many shows, among the most recent the faculty exchange of the University of Montana with the People's Republic of China in Hangchow in 1983, Montana Current Ideas, the Yellowstone Art Center, 1986, Judy Chicago/Lela Autio, Paris Gibson Square, Great Falls, 1987, The Manipulated Thread at the Missoula Museum of the Arts, 1988 and the Missoula Artists' Exchange Exhibition in Oaxaca, Mexico, 1989. She devotes her time now to her own work, large assemblages of plastic pieces and enamel in a 3-D type of painting with which she has been experimenting for the past twenty years.
Autio does not credit her years growing up in Great Falls as important for the development of her work, but sees her greatest influences springing from exposure to art trends in the late 50s and early 60s, most notably the Abstract Expressionist movement. Her art is not in her eyes regional but is born from an innate fascination with shape and color wedded to an awareness of mid-twentieth century art. Her vision is not dependent upon living in Montana, or anywhere, for that matter.
Hoping that the Rattlesnake Valley Press Centennial Portfolio concept will be open-ended and grow into other Portfolio productions, Autio was happy to participate. She based her own print, "Reflections", upon a line of trees she encountered on the way to her lake cabin. The different colors and shapes in the print represent the variety and differences in nature. This profusion of shape and color is a recurrent theme in the large pieces of fabric, plexiglass and paint for which she is known. Here is seen, scaled down for the print medium, some of the energy and excitement jurors and critics alike have observed in her larger works.
--From the Rattlesnake Valley Press Centennial Issue, 1989, Margaret Mudd