'Chasing God" might be one way of explaining what Suzanne Wiggin does in her art work. "In Pursuit," the title of her new exhibit of oil paintings and ink monotypes at the Taos Art Museum and Fechin Studio, refers to positivity, thinking of positive things.
"Things like happiness; beauty - trying to get these phenomena I see out in nature into my art," she said in an interview last week. "Trying to capture something that's pretty ephemeral - there's a little bit of a chase involved." That's actually a pretty funny statement and so typical of Wiggin's aesthetic. Check it out at her opening reception Friday (July 6) from 4 to 6 p.m. at Fechin Studio, 227 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Admission is free.
Wiggin's process is a stellar example of mindful creativity. You feel it instantly as she settles into regarding her work, one brush stroke or ink blot at a time.
An air of hushed regard rises in the air between her and her work. You are drawn in equally deep, feeling the changing light of a sunset over the gorge or an arroyo, through piñon and juniper branches or from under sage and Gambel oak.
While all artists do the same thing, Wiggin palpably transmits that state of creative mindfulness. It could be due in part to her other profession as a certified dyslexia therapist, trained at the Multisensory Language Training Institute of New Mexico.
Whether her dyslexia therapy practice made her more mindful or her mindfulness drew her to dyslexia therapy is a moot point. She seems entranced by the multisensory information of a landscape or skyscape, and seems to roll around in the changing physical colors and emotional hues of both the external weather of nature she perceives and its effect upon her internal weather and artistic process.
She is faculty again this year for the Doel Reed Center for the Arts "Fall Into Art," taking place Oct. 4-6 at the Oklahoma State University workshops in Ranchos de Taos (drca.okstate.edu). Her workshop is "Plein Air Printing," which sounds incredibly intimidating.
"You have your rollers and ink and glass," she said, pooh-poohing the technicalities. "It's an escape from your everyday life where you're talking about art, talking about color and perspective. It's fun not to be by yourself all the time. I like that part of the print classes at UNM-Taos, too, so you can see what other people are doing. That's the beauty of all these workshops."
Wiggin has a master of fine arts degree from Boston University and a bachelor of education degree from the University of New Mexico. She also has a specialty area license with endorsement in visual arts and modern and classical languages. Since 2013, she has worked as a reading intervention specialist at Taos Integrated School for the Arts.
Despite her degrees and specialties, however, she feels art is often misappropriated by elitism. She originally planned to teach art education but quickly realized how "boring" that was.
Having moved to Taos in 1976 as a teenager, she says in press materials that her artistic vision was formed by her years of living in the Taos Valley. As a kid, she said she drew portraits for snacks and other benefits all through school. She later worked for a time as gallery director at the now-defunct Grycner Gallery in Taos and then in Lahaina, Hawaii, in 1986. "Greg (Grycner) said, 'We need some impressionistic paintings on the wall'; and I said, 'I can do that,' and they started to sell!"
Her focus is the weather and its relationship with the land. She likes to "make," including now her monoprints--photogravure, Chine collé, blossoms and more - and copper plate etchings, all of which will be available in a bin at the exhibit.
"There's an editing going on with the viewer and nature," she says in closing. "There's editing in monotypes, to see if the viewer can relate to something they have seen here. All the smoke and moisture (of late) causes a kind of color, and it moves toward you. There's a horizontal light in the sunsets, and it's like air has color.
"If I'm in the studio a lot, I can't even talk. You get into such a zone. I have no words, a nonverbal zone. Art is a human experience and a human expression." You just have to experience art through Suzanne Wiggin.
The exhibit continues through Sept. 2. For more see taosartmuseum.org, suzannewiggin.com or call (575) 758-2690.