No wonder 3,000 firefighters battled a forest fire for 5+ days, keeping the fire at bay from this gorgeous art campus, where the fire at one point came within a mile! But the firemen fought off the fire and Idyllwild remains intact!
The Santos Cage Doll Redefined was an incredible workshop, and the women who took part in it were incredible women, who came to create and to be transformed. Each of them brought their own stashes of personal mixed media materials to draw from and each were eager to learn the process of sculpting, casting and assembling a Santos of their very own.
Kirsten had all types of childhood treasures in her stash, and each came out, one by one, to be gathered and woven into her Santos, until her Santos became a living Talis(wo)man. Her Santos was strong and royal, and during her process of being created, appeared sometimes African, sometimes Russian, sometimes masculine, sometimes feminine. In the end, her Santos was a strong Copper Relic of her own beauty and value.
Erin had a beautiful fairy-like Santos which held secrets within her skirt. Just like her, this Santos held information away from immediate viewing, but upon pursuit of the viewer, the secrets slowly revealed themselves in intricate layers.
Margaret made a dark and heart-wrenching piece – a memorial to her partner who had passed away, and the things she had discovered about her after her passing. Margaret’s Santos had dual heads, foreboding colorful wings which jut out at an angle ready for flight, and was holding Margaret’s still beating heart on a plate. On its elaborate black skirt, it carried the beautiful relics it stole from her life, namely, money and time.
Anne created a golden celestial Santos – a tribute to her mother, who, she revealed to us, had just entered hospice the day before the workshop started. Anne had been so distraught she wasn’t sure she was coming to the workshop, but in the end, came for her mother. Her beautiful Santos had a clear, exquisite appearance that was transparent and radiating. She seemed to be her mother herself, as she moved into a celestial world, her youth and beauty restored, her heavenly appearance becoming now her permanent apparel.
Kristen and Judi, the sisters of the group, created symbiotic Santos, whose body language, when placed together, seemed to be whispering and responding to each other. Both Santos had statuesque bronze torsos, but Kristen’s embodied the Spirit of Gratitude, which she accomplished by winding the wooden cage in slips of paper with handwritten reminders to offer gratitude throughout each day; while Judi’s Santos embodied the Spirit of Mother Nature and her femininity and sported a sheer moss green skirt with bees and butterflies swarming around, under and through the fabric. Both were beautiful testaments to these women’s love for the Divine.
Melinda created a stoic male figure in transparent violet, with a dark purple boa and gold, princely accessories- a braided belt and crown. What a figure he struck, like a tiny version of Melinda in Spirit- strong, clever and observant!
Sandy sculpted her figure the first day without a hitch, but almost couldn’t make it through the news that hit her as she sculpted the torso on the second day. She learned that her grandmother’s lemon tree had collapsed to the ground. Immediately her sculpture seemed to take on tones of bark and leaves…then lemons emerged. Her Santos became a tribute to her grandmother, as a citrusy lemon tree figure offering lemons. Her name was Limoncello.
Shereen’s Santos began as an Indian woman with large, deep-set eyes, then morphed into a Puck-like fairy, and ended as a mysterious golden-bronze Indian woman wrapped in cloth bearing single words that define this Santos, contributed one by one, by each member of the class upon her request. This way, Shereen was able to mingle the Spirit of her temporary artist peers into the Spirit of her Santos in a very unique way.
Sandy Martin, my assistant, worked on a piece along with the students. Her Santos started as a memorial to the class, as she engraved the word Idyllwild into the figures back. Then after being cast in a gorgeous pale turquoise color resembling stone, it came out of its mold with a little hook nose like a bird(!), so she decided to go with it, and although (being busy teaching) she didn’t finish the piece, her intention is to let the figure morph into a cross-species, part human, part bird; and by masquerading in a masked beak we will never know just how far this species crossed over! Her love of playfully blending humans and animals as her artform trumped the day yet again!
This was quite an extraordinary group of women and the friendships we forged over the three day workshop are continuing to blossom. Our plan is to continue posting figurative work that develops out of this workshop on the Facebook site I created for this purpose, called Hands On the Figure. Come on over and visit if you like!
Well, as you can see, we astonished ourselves in that sweet little retreat called Idyllwild in the California mountains. If you want to join us next year, come on up the mountain in July 2014. I’ll be there, co-teaching again with Sandy Martin, and we promise it will be a fantastic journey for all!