Jake Lovato, ‘Totem of the Southwest Spirit of the Night and Day’, 24 inches by 9 feet tall. Courtesy/SFCC
SANTA FE — Santa Fe Community College’s Visual Arts Gallery will present a virtual online exhibition, “SFCC’s Hidden Talents,” featuring the work of five SFCC faculty members who do not teach art.
English instructor Emily Stern will show her mixed media work, Nursing instructor Lucas Gonzales will exhibit his watercolors and three Welding instructors Jake Lovato, Clayton Peshlakai and Estevan Ortega will share their welded steel sculptures.
The SFCC Campus and the college’s Visual Arts Gallery are closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. “It’s exciting to show this work by SFCC’s talented faculty, who don’t teach in our art department. The work is exciting and as diverse as they are,” said Linda Cassel, director of SFCC’s Art on Campus. “We appreciate having the opportunity to offer the virtual exhibition. We want to keep the community engaged with Santa Fe Community College during this time.”
View the exhibition at https://www.sfcc.edu/sfccs-hidden-talents/.
The video of the exhibition was produced by SFCC Film Equipment and Lab Technician Ashley Martinez
Emily Stern, mixed media (English/Creative Writing Faculty)
Emily Stern Artist Statement: “Don’t Ask Your New Self to Be Your Old Self” is a cumulative mixed-media study of limits, proximities, and capacity. It tells stories I don’t remember and shows the stitching together of my understanding. I began creating images eight months after experiencing one and then a second traumatic brain injury with brief losses of consciousness, within a few days of one another. Historically, I’m a writer, performer, and teacher.
Since my injuries, reading and writing are very different — slow and not free. But, everything is very different. I’ve come to believe that making this art began as an unconscious attempt to understand and accept my circumstances, using the most engaging, convenient, cheap, and inspiring supplies available in my immediate surroundings.
The first 30 images became “The Shape of What Spilled,” the basis of a manuscript-in-progress of the same name and shared in the 2018 group art show “Crush/Repeat” in Seattle, WA. More than once, I’ve attempted to re-create an effect I used in images in “The Shape of What Spilled,” and had no idea what I had done, some taking months to emerge, and some not yet still. Pieces and creative processes relied on using and musing my immediate environments, like my yard and old books, MRI and CAT scans and other x-rays, and a lot of repetition.
From what I can recall, which is very little, creating felt meditative and desperate in the confusing haze of my new reality of busted memory, pain management, and slowed and different cognition and executive functioning skills. Images that have continued to show up include distance, the diver, cicada wings, astronaut, anatomy, trees, magnification, new and hybrid species, wood, X-Acto knives, carbon paper, access and barriers, owls, and photography.
The characteristics of a piece of wood direct my visions. In the last year and a half or so, I’ve been lucky to dumpster nearly all of the wood I use from scraps in the Santa Fe Community College Fine Woodworking and Media Arts Departments, and generous local woodworkers and friends in woodsy landscapes. I was drawn to work directly with and on wood, using collage, ink, charcoal and drawing, disintegrating book bindings, painting, epoxy resin, and then burning and carving. I’ve blown out five different wood burners, in tool and voltage. I long to wield a hot carving knife that can sculp.
My materials are a too-big and too-heavy, and difficult to move (according to my loved ones) collection of found bric-a-brac and art supplies that revealed themselves as a decades-long-awaited treasure and investment. One cluster of work was created as a result of my processing and communication challenges in my closest relationships amidst the onset of pandemic circumstances, as mother, friend, housemate. Frequently, I experience cognitive static and confusion. I can’t easily retain information in conversations, or in reading. There’s a frantic yet neurologically melty and slow reality that asserts itself involuntarily. My experience of “remembering” is staring into invisible ink on a bright white wall, with shards hurled at me from the abyss of no context, and I’m learning to not to be shocked by their stark, contextless truths.
Sometimes, shards assemble into stories and information; more often, I catch clues in a windstorm of slowed cognition. Each memory is new again, and startling — sometimes traumatizing and incapacitating. Like, if the movie Groundhog’s Day and Sylvia Plath had a baby, it would probably have to think a lot like Deepak Chopra to make it past 21. For these moments, I made images to talk, instead. I also use them in conversations and meetings. Placed in front of me like cue cards, they remind me that I’m brainstorming or that it’s “time to listen.” At my house, since the pandemic, we’ve all used them now. Challenges with communication and transcendence seem and are pervasive. Transcendence largely relies on vulnerability, timing, fearlessness, and acceptance — and using and doing what’s available and feels good at the time.
Emily Stern Artist Bio: Emily Stern is an Assistant Professor of English, Creative Writing, and Humanities and interim chair of Advising and Communication in the Santa Fe Community College Communications, English, and Reading Department. For her B.A., Emily studied interdisciplinary, culturally-responsive, and justice-centered teaching and learning at The Evergreen State College before receiving her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goddard College.
An excerpt of her memoir, This is What It Sounds Like, about her mother’s death from AIDS is 1993, will be in the anthology by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, “Between Certain Death and a Possible Future: Queer Writing on Growing up with the AIDS Crisis,” to be published Fall 2021 by Arsenal Pulp Press. You can find out more about Emily’s writing and consulting at emilystern.com and more art on Etsy.
Lucas S. Gonzales, painter (Nursing Faculty)
Lucas S. Gonzales Artist Statement: “The outdoors and being in nature is my spiritual place; it’s where I go to reflect, gain insight, and inspiration. I try to capture the essence of the outside and bring it inside, whether painting en plein air or in studio, I strive to give the viewer a sense of place. I want them to experience the cold air, the sunshine, the cool breeze, and to feel as if they are standing in the middle of an open field.”
Jake Lovato, welded sculptures (Welding faculty)
Jake Lovato Artist Statement: “I started welding at age 14 as a freshman in high school. I learned fabrication on the job and attended TVI “CNM” at night to learn the technical side of welding. In the last 40 plus years of welding my resume includes commercial, industrial and welded art. I have 20 plus public art projects and numerous art pieces in public and private collections.
“I like making art! May it be from found objects or new materials, belt buckles, gates, furniture or just a cool piece of art to hang on the wall. I enjoy spending time with my best friend and wife Tania. We enjoy camping, Hiking, the outdoors and mission trips are my other passions.”
Estevan Ortega, metal sculptures (Welding faculty)
Estevan Ortega Artist Statement: Estevan Ortega is a Santa Fe native. He got interested in art while working for Prescott Studios here in Santa Fe. While building sculptures and traveling the United States with the artist, he got very exposed to the art world. While doing art as a hobby, Estevan has opened two businesses in Santa Fe, one a bungee jump ride for the mall, and the other a large subcontractor for FedEx Ground. Now on his third venture Estevan hopes to do art and fabrication full time. Estevan has been teaching in the welding program at SFCC for the last three years.
Clayton Peshlakai, metal sculptures (Welding faculty)
Clayton Peshlakai has been an artist since he was a child. He became a welder over 30 years ago and has worked in various settings from heavy industrial to fine arts. He owns and operates his atelier, Skyhorse Studio, the production facility for his metal sculpture. Owen Contemporary art gallery in Santa Fe represents his sculptures. Clayton also is a welding instructor at SFCC where he enjoys giving back to his field.
Of note: For more information about the gallery, contact SFCC’s Director of Art on Campus Linda Cassel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 505.428.1501.
Clayton Peshlakai, ‘Orca’, steel, 25 by 25 by 69. Courtesy/SFCC
Emily Stern, ‘Cage’, mixed media, 12 by 12. Courtesy/SFCC
Estevan Ortega, ‘Twisted Sandstone’, steel and river sandstone, 48 by 36 by 12. Courtesy/SFCC
Jake Lovato, ‘Lily in the Breeze’, 2 feet by 3 feet by 4 feet tall. Courtesy/SFCC
Lucas Gonzales, ‘August in Santa Fe’, watercolor, 19 by 12. Courtesy/SFCC