Fifteen years ago Francesca Morales Cook fortuitously stopped at The Taos Art Museum gift shop, and the manager at the time complimented her about a piece of her work that she was wearing.
Later, he asked if the gift shop could carry her line. A relationship began with this eclectic artist that now spans over a decade. It culminates with a solo show and demonstration Saturday (July 28), from noon to 4 p.m., where she will be featured at the "Meet the Artist" series hosted by the Taos Art Museum, 227 Paseo del Pueblo Norte.
Cook will exhibit her wearable art jewelry, share her story, conduct demonstrations and invite visitors to take part and ask questions. Hot coffee, cold lemonade and treats will be served.
Tempo emailed and spoke with the artist. Here are the highlights of our conversations:
Tempo: What mediums do you work with?
Francesca Morales Cook: All metals, sterling, gold, 99 percent fine silver, brass, copper - all kinds of gemstones, everything from aquamarine to zircon, and clay, found objects. For instance, most people look at a door hinge or a vintage button and see a hinge or a button. I see magnificence waiting to come to fruition.
Tempo: What themes seem to reoccur in your work?
Tempo: Where do you find inspiration?
Cook: Emotion inspires me, feelings of tranquility, peace, sorrow, joy, confusion - not feelings within myself, but the feelings are within everyone. Feelings are universal energy. They are the blanket that covers each of us. Energy can be expressed in metal and color with hammering and fire. Spirit, emotion, connectivity and healing, these inspire me. These are the essence of my art.
Tempo: Do you intend your work to challenge the viewer?
Cook: Whether or not intentional, I find the juxtaposition of different materials, for instance, clay with crystals, fine silver with leather always seems to spark conversation about my pieces.
Tempo: Do you think the intellectualizing of visual art by the artist or viewer lessens its power and emotional impact?
Cook: I cannot say what intellectualizing art does or doesn't do for anyone else, but I feel if you force something or overthink it, it loses its connection with what comes naturally.
Tempo: Is there something you are working on, or are excited about starting you can tell us about?
Cook: My work is evolving … Besides my creating wearable art, I also teach several different classes in various venues, ranging from colleges to women's groups. However, as far as what's next? Alongside my jewelry journey, I was in social work for 25 years. Walking that parallel path, heaven led me to develop and guide the curricula for a series of women's retreats.
Tempo: What three things bring you joy?
Cook: Prayer, family, creativity.
Tempo: Do you see your work as autobiographical at all?
Cook: Yes, several of my jewelry collections tell parts of my story. For instance, my "tide pool," "coral reef" and "energy" lines all reflect different times of my life, but they reflect different times in everyone's lives. The "tide pool" line symbolizes that we are never alone. Even if we feel washed ashore, we are still strong and shimmering, like the stones in the tide pool. But just as the tide pools are always part of the ocean, we are always connected with the divine.
Tempo: What does having a physical space to make art in mean for your process?
Cook: My studio is my sacred space. It is the place where I intuitively, meditatively, "let go" and journey into another realm, trusting the creator, to guide me. It is at that point, I feel, that true art comes alive … That is why the name of my business is "Out of My Hands," because although it is through my hands, it is divinely out of my hands.
Tempo: When people ask you what you "do," how do you answer?
Cook: I create wearable art, visionary art, adornments that aspire to transcend the physical world and embrace our spiritual essence.
Tempo: What do you want your work to do?
Cook: I want my work to speak. I've been told that many of my pieces say everything that cannot be put into words. My clients tell me that they don't just wear my pieces, they feel the energy from them, how the designs are so gentle yet powerful.
Tempo: What can people anticipate at your show?
Cook: While at the meet-and-greet, I plan to share a bit about my story, from community advocate to artist, and how the two are almost one-in-the-same. I will also set up a display of my work that shows the wide array of techniques I incorporate into my wearable art. All the pieces on display will be available to purchase during this one-day, special event. I also plan on doing a demonstration. Part of the demonstration will invite the visitors to take part in some kind of technique, perhaps using a microtorch, hammer, disc-cutter, wherever spirit takes us.