When Arin Waddell was growing up on a ranch in Montana, the last career she wanted to pursue was art. “With my dad being an artist, I thought that he pretty much
had the market covered,” she says. Her father, painter Theodore Waddell, is known for his contemporary take on the West. Arin did eventually find her way back to the family business. And today she lives in a small Wyoming town much like the one in Montana where she was raised—a rural, ranching community.
Many of the objects that are sprinkled throughout her paintings reflect ranch life as well as an early interest in flora and fauna. There’s a touch of whimsy in her still lifes, but their playfulness can also belie a more serious mediation on current issues like the state of education in this country. One day recently she recalls getting so frustrated with the public school system that she created a painting attacking the object of her wrath.
In Get Your Ducks in a Row, three ducks face the same direction but a fourth bird protests and faces in the opposite direction. “The ducks are all stiff and in a row. That’s what everyone wants—to make kids conform. But there is one mallard that is swimming in the opposite direction. Not every child can sit still and regurgitate facts.” Arin is an Artist to Watch in the upcoming September issue of Southwest Art. –Bonnie Gangelhoff