Pamela Axelson was born November 19,1950 in Abilene, Texas.  She hopes to live until the year 2100.

In 1952 her family moved from Texas to Payette, Idaho, the rural southwestern Idaho farm town near the Snake River and the Oregon border, where they lived until 1958.  The rolling hills, orchards, and irrigation ditches of their neighborhood on the outskirts of the small town were Pam's laboratory as a child.   She was a builder of forts, mountains, rivers and dams in the neighborhood vacant lots.  She also created a number of "do no touch" boxes under the clothing racks in the backroom of  her father's men's clothing store.

After a fire next to the clothing store the family moved on to Butte, Montana in 1959.  Here Pam's 8 year old epiphanal moment was the dicscovery of the great open pit copper mine that spiraled down, layer by layer, into the earth. 

The family moved once again about a year later to the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles County.  Pam lived in the LA suburbs from 1959-70.   She grew up and found inspiration and comfort in exploring the canyons between the valley and the coast, storing away memories of the glittering light of the vast and constant Pacific Ocean.
During the years of her childhood many family trips took her through the varied landscapes of the west offering opportunities to study the sedimentary structures of the Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and Colorado landscapes.  On these trips she experienced the ancient grandeur of the Rocky Mountains, the Tetons, the Sawtooths, the Bitterroots and the clear sparkling rivers and mountain lakes of the arid western landscape. Dirt, rocks and open space, memories of these places, would later become the materials of her work.
The small town of Morrill in Northwestern Nebraska, home of her maternal grandparents and their hardware store was where she spent some of  her most memorable and formative summers. Exploring the hardware store from top to bottom, front to back, she learned about tools and industrial materials while she watched Louie repair equipment in the store workshop, on the alley behind the store.
From an early age she found her greatest satisfaction in making things, requesting her first saw and hammer at age 8 and building her first table at age 9.  The layering of things and internal things not visible became her focus.  Mountains and people had mysterious inner structures which her imagination tried to make visible.
While at San Francisco Art Institute (1970-72) she returned to her interest in mud and sedimentary layers, working on a group of layered mud pieces.  Her studio became a laboratory in which she could mimic the process of sedimentation, the record of time.  Each day she traveled all over San Francisco and the larger bay area, red wagon and shovel in tow, collecting various earth samples to use in the sedimentary forms.  Sometime during these years she had the opportunity to visit the algal culture room at the Carnegie Institute, a room filled with luminous green cultures in glass tubes.  Sometime later she assembled her first Winogradsky column, growing and photographing the local algae and photosynthetic bacteria from the mud beneath the Dumbarton Bridge.

In the late 1970's she worked as a marble worker at Clervi Marble Company on Bayshore in SF, the only woman in the marble workers union. In the early 80's she studied welding and worked as an industrial welder making high vacuum evaporators for the semi-conductor industry.  Both marble and steel were materials, earth related and industrial, that she wanted to explore as an artist.

In 1982 her daughter Eliza was born followed by her son Gustav in 1985. Her children, these two amazing people, changed her life.

During the 1980's she live with her young family in central New Jersey. She worked on site specific sculptures composed of multiple clay figures unified by a common focus. The figures were a generation of time, coming from a past, existing in the present of the piece, looking together forward toward something not known.  She also worked on a "veritable" forest, of tall welded and forged steel stalk like forms.  The process of hammering and piecing them together, carving and scarring and softening their dense dark surfaces allowed her a very primary connection with the steel.  None were planned; they grew out of themselves.  Assembled as a group, these pieces of dense vertical steel activated the space between them.  All had "heads" that maintained a direction of focus for the group. Similar, directed, bird-like heads can be found in many of her sculptures and her drawings.

With the 1970's rock making work she began to use a grid structure to locate visual experience and visual memory.  Certain elements of the psyche would always be found in the same quadrant of the grid.  Over the years she has continued to use the grid as an organizing and a visual element in both her 2 and 3 dimensional work.

She has consistently thought of herself as an artist/experimentalist, a scientist; she considered scientific experimentation to be a part of what she had to do as an artist.  During the 1990's she returned to layering, now in the form of wire mesh boxes that could be used to construct the grid and house the elements of the psyche.  Similarly, she began to use transparent Japanese rice paper to layer forms over forms, suspending them in space, between past and future.

Her interest in capturing time, gaining a conceptual grasp of time, led her to an experiment in storing time by doing "day-print" drawings which could hold the record of the nerve impulses sent spontaneously to her hands and translated into pen marks on paper.  These drawings have continued for 20 years.  She continues to process the drawings that are part of this experiment.  Each drawing leads to other drawings like a continually developing language.  This is the work done with transparent Japanese rice papers, ink wash and pen line, layering paper over paper and paper over transparent cloth.

A number of artists and friends have influenced Pam's work:  Gary Kuehn, Agnes Martin, Brian Edman, Joseph Beuys, Alberto Giacometti, David Smith,  Nell Sinton, Minnie Ng, Christopher Wilmarth, Louise Bourgeois, Jannis Kounellis, Magdalena Abakanowitz, Chillida, Richard Serra, historic Chinese landscape painters, Peruvian weavers, the neolithic potters of the world, the early metalsmiths, and so many others.