April 11, 2020

Roots Presentation for Pecha Kucha

As an artist, I work in printmaking, painting and ceramics, my primary focus has been to illustrate wildlife and wilderness of the high desert with the hope and intention of inspiring a culture of fondness and connectedness to nature. My art is a celebration of the unique ecology in New Mexico and it’s abundant diversity.

My artwork is essentially about relationships, and about the quietly unfolding dramas and harmonies of the wild world. I find peace in the outdoors among the sky and trees. We are relatives to all living creatures. Like them, we were all were born from stars and will become soil, broken up by twisting roots. The natural world is abundant with this honesty, non-exclusive and accessible to everyone, which is in part of why I’m drawn to it. The wilderness is so purely authentic... to watch what happens outside, among junipers and arroyos, helps lead us nearer to our inner selves. As humans navigating life in a capitalist society, natural spaces are a source of peace and respite. Nature can give us assistance to break free from the confines of our human goals and thoughts... Its a helpful reminder that just being receptive to this wondrous world is absolutely enough. Plants, animals and landscape connect us to our own honesty, so essential to our survival.

Our human lives are part of the natural world, and are full of the same patterns. Nature has the capacity to teach us about ourselves. Roots is a beautiful word that links the natural world to the man-made world. In language, we use the word ‘roots’ metaphorically to describe ourselves when we talk about cultural origins and history. In culture, music and art, ‘roots’ describe a movement that connects our present and moves us deeper into time. As a visual artist, I gravitate towards understanding through my senses, and I’m drawn to the visual language that nature speaks.  Why do roots resemble veins, neural pathways and ant tunnels? They’re relatives, poetically linked. They are all shapes which express connections and the environment in which those connections take place.

The roots you see here in the desert, on the tall walls of arroyos, are gnarly and twisted.  Their dramatic twists and turns exquisitely express the extreme conditions they’ve witnessed.  Coming across one of these roots in the desert is compelling and poetic for me. I’m drawn to these dramatic roots, and I wonder what we can read and understand in their visual poetry? The shape of these roots were defined by the desert which I love. These roots are very much a part of this place and landscape with its vast blue skies,  endless mountain ranges and expansive juniper and pinon covered hills. Our own invisible roots are also inevitably shaped by the climate and environment of our lives.  Some of those elements are outside our control and force us to adapt and bend; others provide space for a certain agency, inviting us to respond with our own artistry.

This intimate conversation with the landscape is a culture I believe in. We’re all participants in a slow dance, something that follows nature’s timing of the seasons and cycles and invites us to step outside our human timeline to participate.  If we choose to bring our care and attention to the unique personality and rhythms of the landscape we live in, it speaks back, affirming our belonging.  Art is one of the ways we can show up, for that conversation. Each image I’ve created is a step of care and attention towards the natural world. It is also an opportunity to renew that connection and to define a human culture that holds it dear. When we relate deeply in this way, when we love something and feel we belong to it, we instinctively protect and care for it. We are slowly woven into the fabric of our place, with and without our knowing— the health of the environment we live in is part of our own health.

This time we live in is complex and confusing. We’re in a crisis of homogeneity and loss of diversity. We’re faced with climate change and the loss of languages, species, and extraordinary cultures. Nature is a remedy for me, to ease my aches and help provide insight in difficult times. Sometimes when you are at a loss and confused, the answer is to give up for a moment and just watch what is happening around you. Nature is our greatest ally— we don’t have to prove ourselves, we are enough as we are. In the end, roots remind us in their symbolic language that life and death are connected... just as branches cannot exist without roots, life cannot exist without death. Though scary and something we avoid, dying is not necessarily bad. I find comfort in the fact that roots are our destination— we will filter through them in the earth after we pass. These dualities, life and death, compliment each other, as do the roots and the branches, the night and the day. This cyclical process is beautiful and profound— decaying matter nourishes the trees which provide shade and protection for animals, which in turn provide nourishment for the trees. Each steps builds upon another, and these relationships take time to strengthen.

This slow process unfolds in all of our lives: personally, as a creative culture, and as a global community.  If we give it the space it needs and bring it our attention, we can watch the slow growth and hear the poetry of its patterns.  I can feel the roots in my life— my relationships, my trajectory making art and my motives, my place in the landscapes I inhabit— all slowly creating strength and grounding. Art can be a tool, individually and collectively, to align ourselves to this process, so that our roots grow in dialogue with the wind, the rain, the snow, and the animals of our natural landscape.  They will take turns that are as exquisitely expressive as these desert roots are shaped.

April 11, 2020

Missing our dog Pinto Bean

Many decisions I’ve made in my life have been inspired by what I love. Love changes a person and shapes the contours of their life. The place where I live, the person I live with and the animals I paint are a part of my life as a result of sweetness.  This week we lost our pet. When you lose a person or animal, or something great that you care for, I find that it spurs you to cherish them even move than ever before. After this loss, a friend told me that sometimes, you can see your loved one more clearly for who they are after they have passed. In this world that demands so much of our productivity,  I find that it can be a struggle to be mighty clear about what is actually the most important elements in your life and to fight for them. After a dear friend passes, it becomes clear that your relationship with each other was one of the most important gifts in your life.

March 28, 2020

Art is for Everyone

I’d like to think that beauty is found in the small and quiet, authentic and perfectly imperfect. 
As an aesthetic oriented person, perfection is an inspiration and motivating force, but what creates more expansiveness for my heart is playful freedom and an acceptance and deep joy for processes that are messy and deeply authentic. To me, the japanese aesthetic wabi-sabi is an example of this. Children’s art for example can be more sincere and powerful than a highly refined artwork in a prestigious gallery. I’d like art to be more accessible and for there to be less divides. For someone to say, I can’t even draw a stick figure is an example of these divides in our society. Art should flow through our lives. Everyone deserves to feel that they are capable of creating beauty.

In my paintings, I often remind myself that it it should be absolutely fun and that my mission is to offer beauty, depth and joy to my community. These values that we instinctively felt as children have the capacity to guide us like a northern star: follow your heart and your bliss, lose yourself in the process and do it because you absolutely love it. Each steps builds upon another and will lead you to something much larger. Magic abides in exploration, curiosity and daydreaming.

There are major faults within our capitalistic society. One is that we push too hard and forget what it feels like to slow down and be present.  Another is that often big money comes from corruption and abuse. I often think about how I want to make a living, and what choices lead to a better and more fufilling life. I’d like to think that living simply, with heart and fiercly abiding by values that are pure and innocent of heart, is a good guide.

From The Hundred Language of Children in Ministories book . These poems and drawings were created by children in a preschool in Reggio Emilia, Italy. 

March 24, 2020


Adaptable animal of the desert with fur that’s colored like the cracked earth, sandstone and basalt of diablo canyon. 

Your soul-haunting sounds are like playful devils, who I imagine must be stirring up mischief in the vacous darkness.

Below the brilliant blue skies of the desert, I’ve seen you crossing the road and trailing across the earth.

One day, we found a clue. A sweet pronghorn had once wrestled for its life but now was peacefully laying under a juniper tree. A coyote had carried it far from its home to ours and our dog had led us to it’s decapitated head.

Dear coyotes, you’re relentless while being able to live in the extreme conditions of the desert wilderness, in cities, and all across the world. I admire your tenacity.

You remind me that not only is the desert my home, but across the world, no matter what country or landscape, are diverse places to love and feel at home in as much as I do in this place. 

Alexis Rockman Field Drawings, mud and acrylic polymer on paper 

March 22, 2020

Process & Manifesto | Death & Chaos
written during the COVID-19 pandemic

Partially why is work is because I learn so much from the process. Not just literally, but I learn to soften around the edges and move forward with love and gratitude for what I make. Some days are easier than others but in the bad days there’s always a gem in the rough. The more I move forward with my work, the more I realize that I am my own unique person. What someone else has created will inform the decisions I make, and I can shoot for what they’ve achieved, but of course it will be in my own way. Diversity is what makes life beautiful, and we each contribute to this diversity. It’s miraculous how many paths a person can take.

The current situation in the world right now reminds me of my own internal struggles. One thing I’ve personally learned, is to trust nature and yourself to move forward with grace. Learning from times of darkness makes the light so much more beautiful. We’re in a time of global loss so our hearts must be especially resilient, and continue to be, for there will always more tragedies to come. 

Another reason why I make art is the underlying motivational message, methodology and essentially, manifesto. The word manifesto hits the chord of the natural anarchist in me. The title of my last exhibition, A Culture of Wilderness, emerged out on an ergency, essentailly like a manifesto.  Manifesto emerge as solutions in dark times. We each have our own stories and journeys through darkness and in light. Art is a part of my story, and a part of repair and regeneration.  

Beatus of Liébana, Commentary on the Apocalypse, 8th century

March 18, 2020

A Love for Animals

Why animals? Why am I compelled towards them, drawn towards illustrating them and comforted by their presence? They’re so authentically themselves.

Growing up, I often refered to my pets my bestfriends or siblings. A maincoon cat named Pet-Ki (aka Pet Kitty) was my absolute favorite friend, another friend was Colores the goat. I loved climbing a mulberry tree in our backyard and would pick leaves to drop from the branches for Colores to eat below. I loved their sweet personalities, how they responded to me so sincerely and their genuine playfulness. They are so connected to what matters. I could slow down and be present with them and not worry if they had any judgements towards me. For me, spending time with pets was less complicated then spending time with people. 

In my dreams, there's an abundance of wildlife... as many sightings of wildlife as people! We currently live in a people-centric world but my vision is that we can work on creating more space for wildlife, out of respect and reverence towards them. Being interconnected and living in coexistence with wildlife does a world of good for our health and happiness.

With my two goats and Pet-Ki the kitten

March 17, 2020

Animals in Traditional Clothing & Art

One of these themes which I keep circling back around to and interests me to no end, is the use of animal imagery in ancient indigenous art: clothing, ceramics, petroglyphs, adornments etc. Handmade clothes from ancient cultures around the world often use imagery from nature. They're meticulously and artfully crafted and adorned with sweetness and reverence for the earth. One of these cultures that I'm particularly drawn to because of region I live in, is the Mimbres. Another inspiration are huipils from Mexico, in particular huitchol huipils. 

Clothing is a fundamental most necessary part of our life, and a functional, expressive art thats a part of daily life. A dream of mine and something I might work on at some point would be to designing elegant and simply clothing with sweet, beautiful animals and plants. As one walks about the world, each day lifting someone's heart with cheerful colors and cute animals, incorporated in a way thats playful yet sophisticated. 

Otomi Bag Mexico

This Otomi bag from the Ixmiquilpan area of the Mezquital Valley of Hidalgo is quite similar to the bag (costal) held by one of the women in the print shown in the previous photo.

© Kat Kinnick