The Wild Women of Tuscarora
If you are in Elko for the Cowboy Poetry Gathering, January 25-31, don’t miss the opening of the Wild Women show on Thursday, January 28. From the Western Folklife Center in downtown Elko, saunter across the parking lot to the Duncan Little Creek Gallery and Bar where you’ll enjoy the work of some of the finest artists and craftspeople in Nevada.
From their website: “The Wild Women Artists work in a variety of media, live in diverse landscapes, pursue individual goals, but come together to mount two group shows each year … a fall show in Reno, and a winter show in Elko … The group was founded by Jimmie Benedict in 1995, in order to bring creative women together and provide a nurturing environment for artistic growth. Over the years, artists have come and gone as life flows on, but the spirit remains.” Read more at http://www.wildwomenartists.com/about.html
Three of these notoriously talented women make their homes in Tuscarora, and their art is often influenced by what surrounds them. Here, each of them talks about a current project:
I drive across the state a couple of times a month, from Reno to Elko to Tuscarora. One or two times a year, I take Hwy 50 instead of Interstate 80. The one-point perspective of endless highway framed by an intense blue, clouded sky and landscape changing with each season is a comfort to me. I started this little series for myself, postcards of my Nevada. I take quick photos out the window with my iPhone and paint them on scrap canvas or panel in my studio and sometimes in front of the heater in the living room.
Here is a selfie of me with a partially finished painting at Cathedral Gorge State Park. The photo of the painting is the finished piece. I made 12 paintings for the Nevada Humanities Arts Awards that were given out last April.
Because it was winter (February- March) I wanted to begin at the southernmost parks where camping would be warmest. I camped and painted my way up the eastern side of Nevada and then worked my way down the center and western part of the state.
The painting shown here was made at Cathedral Gorge State Park. It was bitter cold, with high clouds and a thin breeze. The light was pale and cold. I wished I had had more time to explore the area, there are so many contrasts. I know there are more paintings lurking out there.
The work that I am doing now with shadowboxes allows me to play with multiple images to tell a story. My current favorite materials to work with are jet, which is fossilized coal, and cattle bone. They have a similar feeling when polished– smooth and silky and soft enough that I can work them into intricate shapes. The raven in my work represents the wild and instinctual part of a woman’s nature that will not be confined or tamed. There is a humble form of alchemy that occurs for me when a common material becomes precious when combined with silver and gold.
I love the dual nature of wearable pieces, how there is often a front which is for everyone to see, and a back or inside, which the wearer can keep private. I often include inspirational reminders on the backs of my pieces to give added strength and courage to the wearer. It is an intimate and rewarding exchange when one of my finished pieces gets displayed on a woman’s body; my hope is that the joy that she initially receives upon viewing the piece is multiplied each time she shares it with another.
— Nancy Harris McLelland