I recently had an experience with an artist and her work which conveys the essence of an artist’s spirit, so powerfully demonstrated by each artist featured in this piece. Tina Le Marque Denison and I, along with our friend, Kate Greenway, taught the course Reclaiming the Divine Feminine together at The College of Santa Fe a number of years ago. An interdisciplinary course, we each took the lead for our area—Tina taught art, Kate taught content, and I taught creative writing. This separation was more theory than practice, as we wove the three areas together, with each of us moving from instructor to student fluidly throughout the course.
This experience of working with Tina and Kate with these ideas of art, writing, and myth was one of sheer magic. Throughout the course we made adobe, painted, created dolls, worked with pastels, wrote, delved deeper and deeper through readings, art, and writing into the ideas of the Divine Feminine.
Life unfolded, as it does, in ways that saw The College of Santa Fe close and took Tina, Kate, and me in different directions through life and work, though always staying in touch. I walked into my friend Rachel’s house a few years ago and saw the above painting Mujer de Nuevo Mejico and was immediately drawn to her. I looked closer, I recognized Tina’s signature. “That’s my friend, Tina!” and I told Rachel all about Tina, her work, the magic of the course, and the power of Tina’s artist’s way of walking through the world. This piece had been found rolled up in a closet on campus somewhere, where it had been the previous years, before Rachel’s husband discovered her, with no idea of the history or artist.
A year later, Rachel showed up at our home, bearing this gift. “She needs to be with you, Dawn.” Mujer de Nuevo Mejico now hangs in our dining room, where I share coffee with her by candlelight each morning. I’d been thinking about Tina a lot recently and called her. Through the sheer busyness of life, Tina and I hadn’t talked for the past couple of years and I discovered life has taken unexpected turns and there are reasons why she was suddenly so present in my mind. I told her of Mujer de Nuevo Mejico‘s journey to my home. In light of the turns of the recent journey, she said, “Imagine her finding you, Dawn, after all these years and right now during this chapter in life.” And Tina gave the piece to me as a wedding gift, since I’d married since we last saw each other.
The journey of this piece, the connection that crosses time and space, and gift of the spirit illustrate the mystery and power of art. It is my great honor to share the beauty and words of each artist. It was a journey of awe and humility to compose this piece. From my heart, thank you to each artists for bringing your unique beauty to our world.
Tina Le Marque Denison Tucson, Arizona My lifelong focus as an artist has been to create work that is intensely personal. My imagery comes out of my deepest self through my hands. Those are ancient aquifers that connect to the greater collective unconscious. I dive down inside, and dredge up symbols and memories that link many cultures, many times. I bring the old myths, stories, and icons back up to the surface and re-vision them for contemporary times. I make work about women, about our lives, about our struggles and our strength, about our extraordinary wisdom and our ways of knowing. I have been able to use my art and my position as a female artist as tools for social change for women. With this in mind, I am making my art more publicly visible.
There is an inner component to my work that delivers a wiggly sensation to a certain sensitized kind of viewer. This is not to say that those who do not feel the wiggly sensation are “less-than.” But there is something built into the work that is beneath the picture plane. When a Hopi makes a kachina that is meant for their family, the doll is imbued with a spirit. It is not a decorative object for sale to strangers. You have to be aware that there is a spirit residing in the doll. That is also the case with the work that I make. There is something residing within the work, and there are some people who feel that when they engage with the work. It is not their imagination.
Women have a spectacular genius for core expression. We know the realm of the subjective. It is our landscape. But subjective imagery is like childbirth. Not everyone can pull it off. Not everyone wants to watch. Art with undisguised emotional content can fail. It can apologize, whine, beg, or run away at the critical moment. However, when it succeeds it is altogether glorious, like shooting the rapids. It’s messy. It’s also juicy, slippery; moving, shimmering. The art I make is about life, death, and everything that happens in between. But mostly it’s about what happens under the surface.
Tash Terry and Elena Higgins, Indigie Femme, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Tash Terry — My music and writing is about life and all the twists and turns that go with it. Music comes to me through the spirit of spontaneity and if I am so blessed or prepared, depending on perspective, I will catch it on paper, or even “Quicktime” on my Iphone and have the ‘saved moment’ to work with when time and inspiration permits. I also believe in collaboration and have been very blessed to work with elena from New Zealand with our various lineages and backgrounds to merge the Northern and Southern Hemispheres through our music as Indigie Femme.
I think we have so much to learn from one another and if we can share it through music and other forms of the creative process then we have an opportunity and privilege to become a more compassionate world and there is more hope for peace and love on a global level.
Elena Higgins— My art means EVERYTHING to me – the air that I breathe, the colors in the rainbow, life itself and all that it gives! Once believing in my voice and then the vision to share my gift on world wide stages, a message of love – self love to love others, the manifestations and holding these visions has been unfolding into realities! I love the collaboration with Tash who is very creative and very talented. Our vision & messages in the music are similar! It is a blessing to walk, to believe and to manifest through sacred prayers!!
Jennifer Lyn King, Prague, Czech Republic Art and photography for me are a natural extension of daily life, for the moments that take my breath away. Somewhere deep inside, I feel I must try to capture the glimmering moments of everyday beauty.
Painting and photography and writing spring from the need to express the light and the dark and the contrast between the two. It is through these mediums that I am most able to be who I am, and I am grateful for the chance, each time I sit down to create again.
Delight Edgell, Cascabel, Arizona The stroke in ’95 left me at home down the river and isolated from my passion for teaching Science. Designing the necklaces I would have to wear in my classroom. Eventually I presented them to potential customers which filled the need for intellectual stimulation, creative expression, and contact with people.
I could never have started the business without Pete’s willing support and am proud I can now include his interest in and artistic response to the beauty of science.
Stephanie Paterson, Turlock, California Scrap quilting is a love and the process means the world to me.
The woman who taught me said, “I’m going to teach you a no rules approach to quilting.” It was and still is extremely liberating. I have taught others the way she taught me, to keep the gift going.
I like the way my heart, and mind, and hands are all working together when I am sewing.
I love the surprise of quilting. Since I never follow a pattern, I am always surprised by the final outcome.
In the same way writers collect quotations and observations and lived examples, I collect colored threads, and fat quarters, and broad sheets of soft cotton and flannel.
My quilts become markers of milestones—births, graduations, and marriages. Other times, they are offered as comfort. It’s hard not to feel joy staring at all the bright colors and threadwork.
I like Kaffee Fassett fabrics, and Balinese batiks, and the black Amish fabric which I use frequently for borders, framing each colored quilt square; I admire the bold, bright quilts of the women of Gee’s Bend and the story quilts of Faith Ringgold. Whenever I pick up a new art, I usually make a study of it. I inquire about what others have created and borrow inspiration from a lot of different streams.
“I could never do that,” my boyfriend says. He watches me as I work and sees the fabric everywhere. He sees the intricate process involved and that there are a lot of steps.
Select the fabric
Wash the fabric
Hang the fabric on the line to dry.
Iron the fabric.
Cut the fabric in strips.
Begin attaching the sashes (the long strips that connect the blocks)
Pin the three layers
Hand sew the border…
He doesn’t see himself as having the patience needed for all these steps but I approach each aspect of quilting with an attitude of play, and because of this, everything about the process is a comfort, and a challenge, and makes me feel alive. When I am working on a quilt project, I am in my full strength.
Missy Urbaniak, Fairpoint, South Dakota I am learning to spread my wings as an artist… and to be brave and share…even when it’s scary! I made this piece in December. It features a photo of my boys taken by me this fall. It’s one of those moments that all moms want to freeze in time.The artistic journey that I am on means more than words can describe.
Katharine Goeldner, Salzburg, Austria My art is music – specifically singing. And even more specifically, opera. “Opera singer” is so much more than an occupation, I think for all of us singers. It’s an identity. For one thing, we carry our instruments within us – it’s there, 24/7, and affected by our emotions, stress, the environment (when I sing in Santa Fe, I have not one, but 2 humidifiers going constantly!), what we ate & drank yesterday…you get the picture. It’s no wonder most of us can get a bit crazy and paranoid about our health- just think, if we get a cold, we don’t sing and we don’t get paid. Hence the bulk-sized hand sanitizer! And when our voice doesn’t function correctly, it can cause an identity crisis. Our sense of Self is so wrapped up with the Voice that when something happens and it doesn’t feel or work right, it seems that we’ve suddenly lost a limb and we can become quite lost to ourselves.
Becoming a singer, being a singer, has shaped who I am, where I live and travel, and who my family is. I travel constantly, back and forth between the US and Europe, and by necessity leaving my family for long periods of time- like a month or two at a time. Which means I have missed out on much of my daughter’s childhood – and I have to deal with those regrets. On the other hand, my traveling lifestyle has helped shape my daughter into a curious, self-sufficient young woman who loves to travel to new places and try new things. There are always positives to justify the negatives, I guess.
For me, the best part of being a Singer, the fulfillment, is communication with the audience, taking them on an emotional journey, taking them out of themselves, out of their everyday lives, and helping them to experience, through music, the commonality of humanity – the fire of love and desire, the pain of deep suffering and loss, the humor and absolute joy of Life. Music adds a layer that speaks to our souls.
Katharine singing: http://katharinegoeldner.com/audio/
Jean-Luc Salles, Santa Fe, New Mexico What is it to be a chef?
Being a chef amounts to being an artist in its own right, as well as a philanthropist, an egotist, and of course a little bit of a masochist. As opposed to some professions that carry the burden of creating stress and pain among people, for example IRS inspector or parking enforcement, creating and preparing food that will make people smile and tap into their hedonistic side is a philanthropic mission because you confer your naked feelings and emotions into building dish with the sole purpose of pleasing someone. I approach the process of creation in cooking in the same way a painter or sculptor creates a work of art, finding inspiration in nature, in people, in everyday life and using the plate as my canvas. I seek to create food that will feed not just the body, but the soul and imagination.
Of course this process tends to lead to a certain trait of egotism. Chefs have a tendency to become self-centered and a little out of touch with reality. All the effort, the mental as well as the physical mean that pain, stress and frustration are very much part of being a chef. The constant search for perfection, for the next “the next chef d-oeuvre” can be an exhausting process.
Evelyn Roper Almont, Colorado I suppose my art is reflective of how I draw meaning from our world. I hear and see so many astounding vibrancies, not always in the big way, although the vistas and views are hard to miss. I am so honored and grateful to get the experience of being alive that I wish to capture some of those moments in my art. Besides, it helps with long drives, long nights, cold days, difficult times as the sounds or colors reshape my attitude to abundance versus pity or defeat.
Bobbi Chukran, Taylor, Texas My art has evolved and changed a lot over the years since I studied textile design in college. For quite some time, I tried to force it into very realistic forms, but then I realized that what I’m all about is the texture, color and pattern. My mixed-media paintings are constructed in multiple layers on heavy paper or exterior plywood, most of the time over some background of collaged papers, layers of paints and other texturizing materials. I’ve recently started using hand-cut stencils and including letters and numerals in them, and scratching strange words and symbols into the wet paint.
Kenna Rojdnan Sedona, Arizona I have loved to bake for people since I was ten years old, with cakes being my favorite thing to bake. But, I don’t really like an ordinary cake. I like for my cakes to tell a story, so I decorate them according to the person I am baking for and the story I’ve chosen to tell about them. This campfire cake was created for a boy who was moving to Arizona from Washington DC and had experienced his first campfire with us when he visited Arizona. He fell in love with campfires, so I thought it would be fun to give him a campfire cake for his birthday, right after his family moved to Arizona. He loved it.
Cakes have become my way of expressing how I feel about someone. Each cake is consciously created with an intention. With that intention in mind, I intuitively tune into the person I am baking for, since I have done intuitive work for many years, and I then infuse the cake with the essence that I feel that person is needing or wanting. For instance, if they are wanting more freedom in their life, I infuse it with the essence of freedom. (I have my own special way of doing this…..) I call these special cakes Conscious Cakes. Each cake is a one of a kind work of art lovingly infused with a special message. By making cakes this way, I found a perfect way to combine two of my talents, cake baking and sharing my insights.
Jennifer French, Santa Fe, New Mexico There are few other places where I am quite so content. And there is no other place where I am quite so frustrated!
Kristin Little, Palo Alto, California My journey with art has given me ways of connecting with people. Growing up I was extremely shy. I expressed myself through dance, which I practiced for countless hours, over many years. I was quite keyed in to body language and facial expressions, hyper aware of what people might be saying without words, probably hoping I wouldn’t need to use them myself. People I meet now would be shocked to hear that I was once so shy.
I have come to use art to connect with people. While photographing them, I get to see people truly face to face, helping them let down their guard. It means I get to see a vulnerable side of them, and hold their trust gently, with the ultimate goal of showing them how truly beautiful they are. This sort of true connection is what I have sought in my journey with art, and in life in general.
Debranne Dominguez, Santa Fe, New Mexico
A long time ago I tried to change my signature. My signature looks like a flatline on an electrocardiogram and I would prefer it to have loops and flourishes. I have also tried to change my painting style. My paintings are figurative, primitive and can be visually dense with a symbolism that seems just the right amount to tell enough of the story that is trying to be told. All my paintings have a story because everything I see around me has a story to tell.
I went to art school to learn to paint with more sophistication, but my paintings still insisted on coming out the same. What may have been useful from art school is the rigorous weekly critiques that we had. After a while, one could become immune to criticism or could defend a works merits or concede that there may some logic to a critical interpretation. This process also had the side effect of making one not dependent on praise or compliments. It was really freeing as it is easier to be true to yourself if you do not depend on the world to validate you as an artist. I still need to be validated on my cooking and new haircuts.
The painting Cocina is about a time in my life when I became ill and was diagnosed with diabetes. I knew that I did not want to go on insulin and I remembered stories from my childhood where relatives who were diabetics had avoided taking insulin and been cured by eating nopalitos. I went to visit friends in Guadalajara for a couple months and found my cure in the kitchen of Senora Guzman. Senora Guzman told me that I wasn’t really sick, but eating the wrong food. I needed to pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe and eat the food of my ancestors and I would find my cure. Cocina depicts Senora Guzman’s kitchen and the foods I ate. I became healthy again and stayed in good health when I adhered to Senora Guzman’s recommendations. Ten years later it was discovered that I had Celiacs Disease and ‘the food of my ancestors’ turns out to be gluten free.
Rebecca Farr, Santa Fe, New Mexico I guess I would have to say that I have been creating since I was a child. I mostly made horses, but also have a weakness for the human figure, bones, and lately, birds. I used to draw. Then I made pastels. Then I painted in oils. Then I rediscovered the camera. I think I have always loved the camera, and have images that my father made of me when I was maybe five years old. I remember going into the darkroom with him and the smell of the chemicals and the safe closeness of the dark, the magic of the image appearing in the developer trays.When I was in college, I wrote to my parents and very calmly told them I had a deep desire to live on the streets of a large city and photograph everything and everybody I saw. I think they were more worried about me living on the streets than making images, and so I was dissuaded and sent to visit my great Aunt Mary in New York City. She was terribly indulgent and let me make images of everything, just stopping short of letting me stay out all night. I loved the experience and went back to school to study Psychology, my itch temporarily scratched.
Ashley Biggers, Phoenix, Arizona
Photography reminds me how I want to move through my life. It leads me to notice the beauty—in line and form—of every day objects. My night photography process involves patience, a quality I don’t posses naturally. No matter how dark a scene may first appear, if I open the shutter, light will gradually shine through.
Lisa Wink DeForest, Wisconsin My medium for artwork is frosting. I decorate cakes, not for a living, but for the love of doing it. The process usually begins with an idea or a picture and then I think to myself “how can I make it better?” How can I turn something flat into something 3 dimensional? Fondant and gum paste are much like play dough – you can mold it and sculpt into anything your mind can imagine. My kitchen usually looks like a tornado ripped through it, but I love the calmness I feel when I’m decorating a cake or cupcake – it brings me peace, joy, and happiness. The real joy comes when I see the faces of those I’ve created the cake for – no one wants to cut into it first!
Elias Pacheco Santa Fe, New Mexico My name is Elias Pacheco and I am a 17 year old, fourth generation artist. I have been passionate about art since I was 2 years old. When I was 8 years old, I began showing my art work in the Annual Spanish Market. I have displayed and sold tin work, retablos, bultos, and carved wooden crosses. The retablo shown here brings in traditional elements such as natural gesso, pigments, and techniques, as well as the art that my grandfather does. My grandfather, Lawrence Pacheco, taught me to carve birds, which is a skill he learned from his father, Gene Pacheco. I have also done collaboration pieces with my mother, Alisa Montano. I have also done photography.
Amy Sayers Santa Fe, New Mexico One day, while we were on a family holiday, my daughter who was ten at the time said: “Mom, I’m preparing for my diving spirit!” Immediately, I felt the metaphor in my life….I had just discovered a bag of dried up tubs of paint; watercolors that had belonged to my dad. All they needed to come alive was a little water. Just like my soul. It was time to dive deeply.
I grew up making art, as both my parents were enormously creative; my father being a master painter and illustrator. However, I never considered myself worthy of making the kind of art he made. But a few years back, cancer brought me to my knees. Having survived that dark journey, my soul begged for renewal. It was time to dive deeply and the watercolors took me there.
Dreams, images, lines of poetry started to come through. As I grow older and allow myself to pause, I can see the world through many skins. As the skins get pulled back a collage of dialogues and images appear.
In working with Venetian Plaster and pure pigment, color bleeds into white and images form that may be quite different from the original inspiration. the discovery is exhilarating and the layers are all visible under a veil of varnish.
Painting with pure pigment is alchemy, transformational in and of itself. I love how it can render a texture and feel of the old frescos. Something is hidden, and something is revealed – there is mystery there.
The paintings here are called: 1. “The time has come, the walrus said…” This painting was inspired by a dream I had of the original Alice in Wonderland – Alice Liddell. It was like looking back in the mirror and I later discovered we shared the same birthday. A piece of wonderland in me… 2. The angel piece also came from a dream in which I had all these baby chicks flying out of my chest. It is called New Dreams. The final painting is called Sacred Banquet and started out as a collage of lettered I had received from my father. I sit as his table always.
Heather Cook Santa Fe, New Mexico
Ana Bessy Peralta Cassidy, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Hola, My name is Ana Bessy and I sculpture in wax/clay and cast in bronze. I have been sculpturing since I was 11 years old. Every day after school I went to a pottery class in Boston where my teacher quickly notice how bored I became on just making cups and bowls on the wheel. Instead she took the role as my model and she taught me to sculpture,but through the years I’ve been influenced by many New Mexicans artist here in Santa Fe. Althought my biggest impact came from studying art at San Miguel de Allende The Instituto in Guanajuato, Mexico. There I discovered the beauty of a females body and the endless curves I so enoyed sculptuing, and turning into bronze. Gracias for taking your time to look into my life of art.
Yuriko Nishimura, Santa Fe, New Mexico
My stone carving is one of a kind and it is DURABLE. It’s going to be around for a while and it’s the antithesis of mass produced, industrial products that we are constantly bombarded with these days.
Stone also lifts up my heart. When I see its beautiful colors and patterns created by nature in the course of thousands of years or more, I am in awe. When I work with stone with my hands, I feel deeply connected to the earth and I imagine the incredible journey that a rock has taken to come to my possession.
Nicole White Tulsa, Oklahoma I am interested in the everyday as much as the extraordinary. My efforts to depict the world we live in have intersected with an equal longing to depict an interior world of my own imaginings. I have made portraits of family members, diagrams of architectural elements, fragmented landscapes, and other things I won’t attempts to categorize.
Balancing the demands of work and family life with time in the studio is often brutal. When I look over what I have made since leaving art school, my progress seems microscopic. However, I commit myself to art simply because I have no other choice. Making images is my way of understanding my environment and myself. Hopefully, some clumsy reflection of this aspiration is manifest in my work.
Rod Hearn, Reno, Nevada Ajax in Iraq has been one of the most difficult scripts I’ve ever put on stage with high school students. The play asks a lot of young people who, for the most part, have very limited life experience, even though the war in Iraq has been a part of their consciousness for a long time. While it’s been a tough one to produce, the play has also been in many ways just the right thing for my young actors to sink their teeth into, portraying real adults with significant life challenges, universal challenges. Part of the beauty of this play is the parallet storylines between Ajax, a character from a Sophocles play, with a contemporary female soldier in Iraq. The script is haunting, terrifying and, at times, beautiful. This shot is from their final dress rehearsal yesterday, and this morning they will begin a series of six “teasers” for their peers, with opening night for the public tonight.
Diane Solomon, Santa Fe, New Mexico Dear Fellow Art Lovers ~ As a child, my pencil and sketchbook were my constant companions. I grew up drawing animals ~mostly horses. Then art was put aside as I married, had two children, raised Arabian horses and worked in the family-owned construction business.
A family tragedy and chronic illness left me bereft and disinterested in life. But at some point years later the emotional and physical pain began to lift. Once again I became aware of my treasures: my husband and daughter, my friends, my animals, and the incredible beauty of the world in which I lived. I picked up my paint brush… and began to see the world with new eyes.
I have discovered that I love deep, rich colors. That I must find the spirit of each subject I paint. I also know that animals are my
favorite subjects and that my greatest joy is watching their souls emerge through the window of their eyes.
My wish is that my paintings express the gratitude I have for life… that somehow you can hear my joy speaking through these lovingly rendered images. And may it remind you of the incredible world you inhabit!
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