“When you model clay you’re ambidextrous – which also means, of course, that you’re using both sides of your brain. That’s not true with other art materials.”
A group of us were visiting the Galisteo studio of New Mexico artist Judy Tuwaletstiwa (say “two wallets tea wah”) midstream in a group residency that Steve Klein and Richard Parrish led this past October in Santa Fe when Judy casually suggested that the group try an exercise.
Her simple explanation behind the assignment would later erupt into an energetic discussion in the studio as the individual residents gave voice to some surprising thoughts and feelings that had come out of their time sitting alone in the bosque, “thinking” with the clay in their hands.
It had been a rich week and at least one of the group had seemed anxious to be making her own work rather than meeting another artist on a studio visit.
After a couple of hours there wasn’t a soul in the group who would have wanted to be anywhere else.
One of the residents later remarked, “If I’d come all the way from Europe for these two hours alone, it would have been worth the entire trip.”
Another whispered to me after a brainstorming session in the studio, “It’s weird, it feels like everything she’s saying is just about ME.”
Judy Tuwaletstiwa would not be categorized as a “glass artist”. She works in various media, from paint, to fiber, to bone, only recently beginning to explore kiln-glass. Yet in the relatively short time she’s worked – primarily with powders – at our Santa Fe Resource Center and increasingly in her own studio, I’ve seen a quality and quantity of art emerge that has startled me in ways that I would probably define only as “simple brilliance”. (For a glimpse at some of the work, first shown at the William Siegal Gallery in Santa Fe this fall, go here.)
Judy is also not a highly public person. So the opportunity to study with her is fairly rare. She’s not all over the Internet (like some of us shameless hucksters! ), but a short profile done by National Geographic in 2011 is a good place to start.
She’s definitely not one of those professional “motivational speakers” who shows up on conference rosters regularly – which is exactly why I wanted her at BECon 2013. I was – and am – confident that what she has to say about the act of creating goes far beyond glass, but at the same time goes directly to its core.
For me, her presence at BECon 2013 is going to be one of the major highlights of the conference. But don’t take my word for it. Join us.
And if you’re looking for a short session of pure magic, consider the Making Breath Visible workshop that Judy will lead, both before and after BECon.