I have lived in New Mexico since 2004, but made the conscious decision to move here in 1994 when I first visited Santa Fe. It was love at first sight: the art, the diverse culture, the beautiful desert, and the magical spirit that prevails. However, it wasn’t as an adult that I was first introduced to the southwest, but as a very young girl at home in Indiana. My parents had visited Santa Fe in the mid-50′s and collected a few southwestern treasures. I especially remember a hand-blown amber glass ball. I used to gaze at it and daydream about its mystical origins. Unaware, I was gazing into my future some forty years later.
My life in the Midwest was always a life of creativity. My mother and sister are both artists and from my earliest memories, our house was involved in many projects. All of the materials needed were within arm’s reach.
Paralleling this enthusiasm for the arts has always been my love of nature which I contribute to the green thumb of my grandmother. As a young girl, I would get lost in the maze of her lush gardens! I am so grateful for her Irish heritage, as her interest in the plant world became my own. I soon began painting the plant life around me and in my early teens, I was studying “innocent and primitive” painters, especially the art of Henri Rousseau. Then, as a young parent, I set up a creative environment for my two children similar to my upbringing. Our home was a never ending studio and art classroom.
Before coming to New Mexico, all of my careers revolved around art with each one paving my path to the southwest. Once here, I was able to immerse myself in painting the cactus and animals of New Mexico. I also began studying the iconic work of santeros and soon the Lady of Guadalupe emerged on my canvases. Texture has always been part of my paintings, whether using sand or a thick acrylic medium to resemble carved wood. I often weave both my love of nature and my quest for spirit into my paintings.
My paintings can be found all over the country. The “Lady of Guadalupe: Blessings from Above” painting is on permanent display at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. I have also been part of the TV series, “The Art of Living” on the Veria network. My segment, “The Painted Desert”, focuses on the importance of creativity in one’s life and also our culture.
Looking back, it seems only natural that one day New Mexico would become my home. It offers everything I have always loved about the artistic life with a diverse culture and beautiful landscape. As the mystery of that hand-blown amber glass ball continually unfolds, I am forever grateful that my parents, unknowingly in 1956, introduced me to New Mexico.
Indigo Gallery, Madrid, NM
Andrea Smith Gallery, Sedona, AZ
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