C. A. Santa Maria
My papers come from around the globe: made of mulberry bark, rice, silk. It can be smooth, transparent, subtle, screeching. Paper allows me to add and take away at the same time. I have worked with paper long enough that I can sense where it “wants” to go. Sometimes it falls into place in ways I would not have imagined and thereby changed the mood of the art.
After living in Togo from 1972-1975 I returned to Vermont for several months before leaving for Cuernavaca, Mexico where I remained for the next 20 years.
Mexican and African cultures thrive on personal connections. Mexico’s artisans are among the most diverse in the world: paper makers, potters, silversmiths, embroiders, mask makers, lacquer-workers, wood carvers. The patterns, collections of goods and the ability to speak to and work directly with Mexican craftspeople led me on a journey Mexicans call a “life of many turns.” The wide richness of colors in people, their clothing, plants, wildlife, market-place foods and spices endlessly filled my senses. There is a wonderful pandemonium of life in Mexico and West Africa that calls to me. That cacophony of colors, sounds, smells still fills my senses and flows into my art. Major influences have been Huichol yarn paintings: the techniques the Huichol use to outline figures and how they compose apparent “chaotic” themes that come from visions and dreams. This “art” for the Huichol is their prayer. Evident in my work too are the intense colors of the Gullah people, their flowing skylines and endless seas. The poetry of their language and daily lives is clear in the movement of their art.
I received my MA from Dartmouth but I learned how to be a human being in West Africa and Mexico. These cultures allow differences that embrace life on a scale that nurtures the most “human” parts of our beings.
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