Santa Fe

Southwestern Art and Universal Symbolism

There is no better way to delve into the minds of people who lived long ago than through their art, symbols and stories represSanta fe 2013 172ented visually. We can learn so much about a group of people by absorbing and studying what they created. Rock carvings and paintings, ancient pottery, and design motifs still seen in weaving all speak to techniques handed down from parent to child. What is so interesting to me is that so many of these motifs are seen in cultures around the world, as if there are symbols and designs that all people are drawn to making. We are so fortunate that some cultures have honored artistic traditions, so in a way, we are looking baSanta fe 2013 258ck in time when we see contemporary art. Notice the same wave pattern in these examples of pottery from the Andrea Fisher Gallery in Santa Fe. While on our Fiber Art tour and workshop in April, we will be spending some quality time at the gallery, seeing older and newer pottery from many pueblos and discussing the intricate patterns, decoration and symbolism. At the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture we’ll hear a guided talk about the even older art and explore the symbolism and motifs used in the past–fascinating! I am looking forward to seeing how being immersed in this beautiful art can be applied to our own creative pursuits in the workshop. I have always been interested in universal symbols- the spiral, square, circle, equidistant cross and triangle, and came across a book by Angeles Arrien called Signs of Life. The book explains the use of these symbols cross culturally and shows artwork that uses them. We’ll be discussing this in the workshop and hopefully, be inspired to explore the meaning of the symbols in our own work. I have done a series of felted pieces exploring this, as in this example: DSCF4633You’ll see several of the universal symbols represented- I wanted to see how they might affect my mind and composition as I worked, and found it very enlightening. I look forward to the Santa Fe workshop and tour, and sharing the richness of the art there with you!

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Landscape, culture, art and fibers in the southwest

IMG_0212Desert, mountains, waterfalls, ancient petrolgyphs and villages long IMG_0149
abandoned..and thriving native communities, opening up their pueblos and art to us….these are the elements woven into the tapestry of our
tours to the southwest! After many visits to the Santa Fe and Taos regions, I find this one of the most exciting places to offer travel workshops. The landscape is stunning, the light
unlike anywhere else, and the shapes and colors in the landscape resonate long after seeing them. After taking day trips to explore the area, meet with artists and visit galleries, we delve deeply into creating fiber art with our memories, photos, and sketches. Felt making is so “user friendly” that people with all levels of experience can achieve outstanding results. DSC_0825DSC_0453

IMG_0254With my ceramics and archaeology background I have been a student of rock art around the world, as well as pottery from many cultures. The abundance of both media in Santa Fe and the surrounding areas is truly amazing, and there is no experience quite like gazing at images pecked into rock, or drawn with oxides, and pondering the messages. One can feel the bond between humans, and our need to express ourselves through art. The pottery motifs date back thousands of years, and the rich contemporary traditions make a journey through the regions’ examples so enriching.

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Some of the patterns represent natural sites, weather, or animals, while other motifs are  sophisticated use of pattern and repetition. On our workshop tours, we bring this imagery back to our hands-on workshop, and hope the art of the ancients will inspire in us new ways to create in fiber.

Santa fe 2013 146A visit to Santa Fe would be incomplete without seeing the contemporary art scene, and plenty of time and opportunity will allow strolls through the Canyon Road and Plaza gallery districts, absorbing the interpretations artists are making of life, landscape and culture.

We hope you can join us on an outstanding tour and workshop in April 2016!

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Fiber art workshop-Santa Fe overview

IMG_0147-001DSCF3970If you love art and travel, our upcoming fiber art workshops are for you! The Santa Fe workshop will take place in April and promises to be a truly unique and in-depth experience. Not only will we be visiting a wealth of regional sites, we will also be creating fiber art pieces to interpret the landscape in our workshop. Each day will be filled with time to explore, absorb and create. We will visit local galleries and learn about the intricate pueblo pottery designs, and visit to the area rock art sites will be sure to inspire.

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We will be delving into needle felted landscape “painting”, using colored fleece to create impressions of the region. I have taught this technique in many workshops, both regionally and nationally, as well as in Ireland. During two week long workshops at John Campbell Folk School in North Carolina, we explored a multitude of ways to work with fleece and create original designs. First, we discuss composition, color and size, and how to create the most compelling design. Students often use photographs or sketches of DSCF8228places we have visited as inspiration, composing from their “visual” notes. After laying the fleece on a pre-felt background, being careful to add enough layers, we begin felting. Layers and colors are built up and adjusted to create a background. 





Then, once the student is satisfied with the layout, more details can be added. All of this is done with various sizes of needle felting tools, and  truly, no experience is necessary to create a sDSCF8206successful piece. We take tie to step back and discuss the progress, make adjustments and continue on. Felting this way is so satisfying and exciting! While DSC_0627landscapes are the focus, we leave plenty of time and opportunity for students to explore further, expand an idea, and go down a creative path.








J. Campbell Felt class 027J. Campbell Felt class 035We hope you can join us for our Santa Fe workshop in April. Art galleries, ancient petrolgyphs, weavers, mountains, desert and valleys, pueblos, and fine cuisine guaranteed!  See all the details on out tour page about Santa Fe.

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