1. Why are you an artist?
I am an artist because I have no choice, it is who I am and what I know. I’m shown visions of what to create and they haunt me till I make what I see. Lately, finding the ancient art of henna painting, I feel compelled to practice by a force inside me.
2. Is there a concept behind your work? If so, please tell us about it.
The driving concept behind henna is for me how this art is practiced across many cultures and religious traditions. I see henna as a binding tradition, a thread of something beautiful and peaceful that ties Muslim, Hindu, Christian and Buddhist together. This led me to understand the idea that arts can teach cultures about each other, that everyone can agree on one thing; beauty.
3. Why do you use the medium that you use?
I like the challenges that henna painting offers. There is the art of mixing your own paste, the skill of rolling & filling the cones to apply it, then there are a myriad of designs crossing cultures, religions, and historical eras. There seems no end to the learning!
There is no other art form that satisfies me more than the surface decoration of skin. I’m at once honored, and excited to become a part of an ancient tradition. There is an alive feeling to laying designs that invoke deities and qualities the model is seeking help from to heal and improve the quality of his/her life. I love the aroma of the henna. Henna is all about transformation.
Painting the design is a transformation immediately of the skin’s appearance. Then as the paste dries and is kept on overnight, there is a psychological transformation because you have to wait and not peek, but have faith this will help your stain darken. Then there is transformation as the stain oxidizes and darkens after the wrapping is removed. The stain will reach it’s darkest a few days after it is applied, then there is a slow transformation as the stain fades. During this whole process is the personal transformation each bearer of henna will move through.
5. What do you think is the difference between your artwork and the work that hangs on walls?
Henna is alive as it transforms with the skin of the bearer. It is beautiful for events in the bearer’s life, and then it fades. I’m reminded of Tibetan sand paintings or butter sculpture, as they also show impermanence and transformation.
6. What is the role of the artist in our society? and in New Mexico?
Artists are here to help others see clearly, see truth, and to help other cope with life. We are a bridge between the physical and the spiritual worlds, we are healers.
In New Mexico, how is that different from the rest of society? Is it different because of the pressure put on artists who live in the midst of such a force as this worldwide art market here in Santa Fe? I think so. I feel overlooked and under-appreciated.
7. Where do you see yourself as an artist in 5 years?
Living in Hawaii and painting wedding henna. Creating henna, indigo & harquus body art on a grand scale!
8 . What are your ultimate goals as an artist?
I’d like my art to pay my bills and more! I’d like my art to help me travel the world, and help others with what I create, especially the indigenous cultures my chosen mediums come from.
9. What does art mean to you?
Art is a dialogue with the divine.