The Southwest

Christine Alfery

Posted on June 13 2023

The Southwest

Featured image: Raven's Spirit

I tell and create stories for all the works I create. They are personal stories about my life. I believe that stories are our wealth. No money, diamonds, gold, silver or what have you, but stories. Our history. The stories we create become our history. I love hearing stories from others about their lives, and the lives of others who are important to them.

Recently I traveled to the southwest, Tubac, Phoenix, Santa Fe, Sedona and Taos. I gallery hopped in all those towns, asking about the stories the artists were telling in their work, both 3 dimensional and 2 dimensional. At first I tried to visually read the artists’ stories but then I found that I really needed to do some research. I started asking questions about the artists’ visual languages. I researched and bought books on the visual symbolism in their works. I am still researching – their pictographs, the symbols they put on their clothing, drums, shields, decorations.

I was especially drawn to their fetishes. The first fetish I saw and bought, just because I liked it – turned out to be a major piece. There were fetishes tied to the back of a mole. And another one was of two ravens tied together with a turquoise piece on their backs, the fetish. The women who sold me the work told me about the differences between ravens and crows, or black birds. Ravens mate for life, crows do not. Ravens travel along or with each other, crows do not travel in clusters, groups. I loved the story. And I loved that the story was being told repeatedly. For me, that is what art is all about – the stories, mine, and the other viewers of a work. Stories, our histories. Just glorious.

Returning home, I am beginning to read all the books I picked up along the way. I am re-immersing myself into their culture. It is hard because I felt differently when I was there. Loving their culture and what they were saying. I know my future work will reflect this trip for a long time – my head is just spinning. The first thing will be sketches of Ravens in different postures. I am lucky to have two ravens visit my feeder almost every day. I am so excited about it.

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