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Meet the Artist: Wander Free & Queer

By Amber Ford

Meet the Artist: Wander Free & Queer

When it comes to creativity and making a difference within their community, Allie Schouten and Danella Demary of Wander Free and Queer are taking aim at art and their passion for the outdoors with their small business. Originally from New England, Schouten and Demary set their R.V. sails west and have been in the Mt. Hood Villages area for the last three years.
Known for their unique LGBTQ+ friendly designs, Schouten and Demary crochet detailed and unique apparel and accessories such as hats, pouches, scarves and headbands. “We craft merchandise and handmade goods that promote visibility and representation for the LGBTQ+ community,” Schouten said. “We collaborate with other artists in the community to design stickers, magnets, and shirts that embody living out loud and proud. We also crochet accessories and wearable items, including rainbow heart garlands, rainbow pride pouches, and pride flag hats to represent the diversity of the community,” Schouten added.
While both Schouten and Demary find comfort, pride and passion in their art, the founding members of Wander Free and Queer have also made their mark in education. Both have master’s degrees in education, Schouten specializing in elementary education and Demary specializing in adult education. As most artists try various forms of art throughout their profession, both Schouten and Demary always come back to crocheting for the comfort and beauty it creates. “We both call ourselves creatives,” Demary said. “We have dabbled in many different art forms over the years, but return again and again to crochet. It is a comforting hobby to pass the wet winter months, and a fun medium with which to create,” Demary added.
As with many artists who live in the Mt. Hood Villages, both Schouten and Demary find a never-ending plethora of inspiration when it comes to creating their pieces in such a magical neighborhood. “Living on the mountain has been transformative for us. After traveling to each of the states in the contiguous United States, we could never imagine settling in anywhere else,” Schouten said. “The culture and community here in Welches has been welcoming, affirming and supportive of us and our business,” Schouten added. Acknowledging the community in which they find inspiration and support, Wander Free and Queer has planted roots within their community.
Using their backyard as inspiration for their business and designs, Schouten and Demary have not only seen the Mt. Hood Villages become their home, but also a place where Wander Free and Queer represents nature and all members of the LGBTQ+ communities. “Our items are inspired by the intersection between representation and the outdoors,” Demary said. “Our handmade pride flag keychains are a great example of showcasing your pride while getting outside to adventure,” Demary added.
For those interested in finding Wander Free and Queer products, please visit www.wanderfreeandqueer.com.

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