Image courtesy of Steven Miller.

On September 18, 2004, Amy-Ellen Flatchestedmama Trefsger married herself. A conceptual artist who primarily works in the realm of performance, she exhibits work in quite experimental, untraditional ways: love poems to sailors transmitted via semaphore, all manner of mail art, documenting dreams on YouTube (replete with mussy bedhead and pajamas), documenting COVID-19 quarantine on YouTube, or dressing in the same monochromatic clothes for a month at a time. Flatchestedmama’s self and prodigious humor are the armature and essence of her work, something highlighted in the “Public Declaration of Commitment to Her Creative Self”, a marriage ceremony which included her father walking the artist down the aisle, vows, a wedding cake crafted from cement, and a legal name change to officially meld her artistic identity with her given name.

“My sketchbook plays an essential role in my art making and has for many years,” says Flatchestedmama. “It is the first place ideas get jotted down or drawn out. This usually happens at night. Once drawn, I will then take the time to collect necessary props/costumes, scout a location, and/or edit the idea. Due to a lack of technical skill, my drawings always make me laugh for a few minutes, so that’s fun too. In the end, I feel they are pretty spot on as far as capturing what was in my mind’s eye at the time of ideation.” 

First Kiss via Video Chat is my most recent sketch,” says Flatchestedmama. “It may be coming soon… the prospective party has yet to download Zoom.”

“I just found this sketch, which was not in my sketchbook,” says Flatchestedmama. “I drew it then posted it by my door as a ‘to do’ reminder. It was there for about three weeks before I completed the image which was used on back of the I ❤ MoM postcard.”
“I have also been known to sketch-sext. A person I briefly dated in 2019 was enamored with a track jacket I was wearing in a Tinder profile pic, so I sent him the attached drawing. That one still makes me laugh and is now in the collection of good friends.”

“For the Greetings from a Safe Distance series, using the sketchbook was more about organizing the episodes and listing the web addresses I wanted to showcase at the end of each episode,” says Flatchestedmama. “I also used the sketchbook [see below] to write down brief scripts. The page listing all of the assets each character brings to the show is because one of us may be voted out, stay tuned!”

“I do Santa pics on a yearly basis and this past year was the strangest one I have ever made: I had just been introduced to tardigrades by another party I was dating. This person in question had just turned 43, so I wanted them to do the 1(43) piece I had recently completed. [In the photoshoot] I would be a tardigrade (something they loved).

It was too soon in the relationship to take a Santa photo with them and I ended up only taking the tardigrade to Santa….”

“This is a piece that I did in 2009 where I carried around “The Weight of My Love” in the way of 13 sketchbooks. I no longer have all of those—I’ve moved into smaller and smaller places over the years and am currently operating with just two sketchbooks.” 

By Amanda

Amanda Manitach is a Seattle-based artist who works primarily in the medium of drawing, merging text with pattern, working aspects of the visceral, dirty, humorous, and sublime into pieces made painstakingly over time. In addition to exhibiting locally and nationally, she worked as Visual Arts Editor at City Arts Magazine for six years, served as curator of Hedreen Gallery at Seattle University (2013-15), and co-founded and co-directed multiple mixed-use arts spaces in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, including TMRW Party and The Factory. She is represented by Winston Wächter Seattle and New York.

She loves to peep on artists' sketchbooks.

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