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Humphries finds beauty in the abandoned 

‘Prairie Gothic’ to premiere at Leslie Powell Gallery

In the cow pastures and wheat fields of Southwest Oklahoma sit many abandoned farmhouses. Built during a time few still remember, they have endured world wars, the Dust Bowl and decades of Oklahoma winds. Their hallowed halls hold echoes of a world that has been left behind by most. Some have been reclaimed by nature, others are crumbling to dust. But still they stand, in defiance of entropy.

These monuments to the red dirt resilience of Oklahomans might inspire awe or mystery in visitors, but for those who grew up around them they often become natural sights. Until someone comes along and points them out that is.

Christen Humphries grew up just outside of Comanche, where old farmhouses and derelict barns dot the rural landscape, flourishes of human ingenuity creeping out of the hard ground to remind drivers every few miles that Oklahoma isn’t a no man’s land.

An artist since high school, Humphries never intended to paint the traditional, folksy country scene. Until she was approached about painting a local barn.

The barn was turning 100 years old. It belonged to a friend whose grandfather had helped build it nearly a century ago.

“I was hesitant at first. I knew if I painted it, it would be in my style. If I tried to paint something that he held in his mind, it would never work. I’ve typically worked with nature. I paint debris and nests and things like that. So I said ‘what if I treat this barn like it’s one of my nests’,” Humphries said.

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