Happy Birthday Arizona!!!

Arizona is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I was born and raised here and have been exposed to the lay of this land for my entire life. Almost every day I am still in awe of the beauty I find here. It is a spiritual place in which you can be one with nature. I remind myself how lucky I am to be surrounded by pre-historic mountains and gorgeous starry skies.

It is astounding to believe that such a phenomenal place is still only a baby to our country. This year AZ celebrates its centennial anniversary into statehood. In recognition of its 100th birthday, many local artists and galleries are exhibiting Arizona shows. One of which must see shows is Arizona Re-Viewed at Art Intersection in Gilbert.

“Arizona Re-Viewed” at Art Intersection in Gilbert, AZ

This exhibit curated by Carol Panaro-Smith, comes full circle with a variety of Arizona-based art from historical postal productions to stunning contemporary art in the photographic medium. I fully enjoy photographing this unique place myself and truly appreciate work being made about what I consider to be my land. For more information on Arizona Reviewed, visit http://artintersection.com/exhibitions.html.


Angela Ellsworth at Lisa Sette Gallery

Over the weekend I visited Lisa Sette Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ. This quaint gallery space lies in the heart of the Art District of Scottsdale. As I walked up I immediately saw the bright and colorful images filling the wall space and the odd stand-alone objects viewable through the glass walls enclosing the gallery. The gallery was light and airy. The beautiful off-white aged wood floors complimented the work’s contents nicely. The show on display through December 31, 2011 is the work of contemporary interdisciplinary artist Angela Ellsworth. The exhibition title is they may appear alone, in lines, or in clusters.

Ellsworth is an accomplished artist in the fields of installation, drawing, and performance. Currently she is exploring her cultural and religious background in her work the Plural Wife Project. Ellsworth recreates the emotions and lives of women in her Mormon ancestry by focusing on a series of multimedia pieces revolving around the life of her great, great grandfather’s 9 wives and their experiences. As a child, Ellsworth was raised in the Mormon lifestyle in Salt Lake City, Utah. Her great, grandfather was the 5th prophet and the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and practiced plural marriage. Although the Mormon Church no longer endorses Polygamy, it is rooted in the religion’s history and was a way of life for some members in previous generations.

On display at Lisa Sette Gallery

When I entered the gallery, Ellsworth’s Seer Bonnets and c-prints immediately reminded me of the Warren Jeff’s fiasco made public in 2007 and the chaos surrounding the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints Church. The photographs that hung on the walls featured the repeating image of a woman (Angela Ellsworth) in a light pink dress and bonnet reaching from what appears to be the heavens. She is delivered as a romanticized version of how a typical FLDS plural wife would appear in some specific sects of the religion. Her flowing drapery against the cloudy backdrop seems somewhat ridiculous, yet communicates a dramatic iconic representation of the Virgin Mary. The woman’s shadow on the backdrop enforces the idea that this is unreal. The idea of this set-up prop is again re-enforced on the North gallery wall where Ellsworth backs out of the shot to reveal the foot pedals and podium she stands on for the photograph.

"Seer Bonnet" on display at Lisa Sette Gallery

The most striking visual pieces were the Seer Bonnets generously spaced throughout the room. The 3-dimensional objects were exquisite! Their gorgeous pearl embellishments drew me in for further investigation. Intricate spiral designs and floral patterns adorn each unique headdress. Excessively long pearl-lined straps dangled from the bonnets to the floor. An unexpected twist to the beautiful bonnets, are the sharp silver pins lining the undersides of the garment. The artists used pearl-tipped corsage pins for this result. Lisa Sette Gallery describes Ellsworth’s objectives in these pieces as being intentionally individualized, while unexpected and confronting at the same time, but I see something much deeper. These bonnets evoked a sense of severe pain when I viewed them. For me, the bonnets are a powerful statement of Ellsworth’s view on the immense pain and pressure that would have been put on the wearer’s of these hats, the wives. Perhaps this is also revealing an idea of concealing true torture with pretty clothing.

The method by which Ellsworth creates these unique bonnets exemplifies the domestic lifestyles of the woman she is examining. The headwear is displayed on posts of varying human heights scattered through the space. Their positions were set as they would be worn; only their bills were downward-facing. This arrangement creates a representation of actual people being seen, rather than just floating bonnets in space. The repeating shape and color emphasize similarity and togetherness. Ellsworth also uses the bonnets’ straps to make relationships between pieces. Two bonnets can be seen together. A slightly lower height bonnet is positioned looking upward towards its taller counterpart, while the linen straps are connected to one another. This engagement reminded me of a mother-child interaction, but in the context of the work, this may also serve as a “sister wife” bond. The bonnets are attractive and command the attention of the viewer within the space.

Further back in a small corridor of the gallery a video of the angelic woman from the photographs is played. In slow motion she poses and moves through the space, taking on different personas with each gaze. She subtly emulates different characters and emotions, from godly and strong, to seductive, to scared and lost; all of these identities portrayed in successive moments of film. She appears to be falling as well in some seconds of the looped clip. Here Ellsworth conveys the emotional uncertainty and instability these women must have faced. An odd camera shot moves right past the woman, through the fabric of her shawl, fully zooming onto the painted background. Through all of these emotions, the woman is ultimately looked right past as if invisible. This begins to address issues of gender and power within the religion.

My analysis of this show was in part influenced by some of the other work of Angela Ellsworth which I had only seen small parts of, but most of it was visual. The white walls, bright lights, open spacing, and facial expressions presented in every direction are void of any explainable emotion. An eerie sense of conformity and disillusion is felt in the space. With no artist statement to be found, interpretations are mostly left to the viewer. My conversation with a gallery worker led to the discovery that the color photographs on the walls were stills from a performance piece Ellsworth did this year. He also let me know that another part of the project is still on display at the Phoenix art museum, which I will gladly visit in person as soon as possible.

This work is embedded in the past, but remains relevant. It can relate activities and emotions of the current FLDS wives and their lifestyles to others outside of the faith. Plural marriages and their mystery have been a hot topic for the past few years. With events like the Warren Jeffs trial and popular reality shows like Sister Wives popping up, this work adds as an essential layer to the conversation. People are judgmental of these lifestyles, but are still curious of their dynamics. Angela Ellsworth’s creativity in bringing these stories to life and speaking for the women who can’t is a fascinating way to re-discover her ancestry and to address women’s issues.

For videos of live performances in the Plural Wives Project, please visit Angela Ellsworth’s website: http://aellsworth.com/works/solo_sisterwives.html

Find Lisa Sette’s information to go see the show IN PERSON: http://www.lisasettegallery.com/a-ellsworth.htm

Join me at the Phoenix Art Museum for more on this project: http://www.phxart.org/exhibition/Campbell-Ellsworth.php

Welcome to Gilbert!


Art Intersection is a wonderful art space new to Gilbert, AZ. This place is packed with goodies: a large beautiful gallery space, full wet lab dark room, digital photo lab, artist lounge, and lecture room. Art Intersection offers bi-weekly workshops on a variety of techniques such as book-making and digital photography, regular artist lectures, and monthly critiques/discussions for community members. There are also summer programs for children to learn a new art-making technique and to explore their own creativity.

As a member of the East Valley community, I realize that there’s a serious lack of community engagement with the arts here. For the past few years it has been a passion of mine to one day open my own art gallery/lounge/café which also gives workshops for local artists to come together and support each other. This is not something I will financially be able to do anytime soon, but I am thrilled that someone else finally also came to this conclusion. This is the reason I am more than happy to be an advocate for Art Intersection. Everyone, especially people who leave East of Phoenix should be supporting this hot spot! Sign up for their newsletter by visiting ArtIntersection.com.

Plan for Success!

Whoever said artists make plans? Well I guess we do
sometimes, it’s just a matter of actually sticking to them! I often plan to go
shooting at 5:00 am, but when 7 o’clock comes around and I haven’t managed to take
the babe to Nana’s yet, I don’t feel defeated instead I roll with the punches
and usually just end up getting a little more sweaty than I had intended.

My philosophy for life is a bit the same. Plan for success…
and be prepared for everything else! Ideally I wish to be a well-recognized
artist who has an impact on the world’s ways. Aside from making photographs, I
have a passion for design, curating, and cooking so an equally ambitious goal I
have is to own a photography gallery where friends can gather to enjoy art!
Contributing to the world through art is my main objective in life.

For now I hope to make it through ASU’s photography program
with some sort of mini masterpiece and to take a curatorial or other art-based
position to gain more knowledge and experience. I am also preparing my past and
current works for exhibition. I will be showing my work as much as possible in
the coming year. If you see my work here or at GinaDeGideo.com and feel it
would be a great fit for any exhibit you are having, please contact me and I
would love to talk with you more about putting together an amazing show!

420 at NSAA!!!

My first indoor gallery exhibition opened 4/20/11 at NSAA (New School for Arts & Academics) in Tempe, AZ. It was exciting and I was happy it all came together. Thanks to the other 5 artists involved in the show, Kathryn Lew, Virginia Martinez, Glory Shim, Valerie Echeveria, and Margaret Hernandez. I think we rocked it!

Also especially THANK YOU to my supportive family for coming to see the work you are all a part of.

Reminence of Home

This work was very personal for me and dealt with the loss of my childhood home and the visual memories I still have connected to this place I’ve always considered “home”.
Check out my artist book Home published at Blurb.

Bookmaking is a fun and very creative process I look forward to learning more about during my stay ASU. Sometimes though, it is nice to let someone publish it for you… this is where Blurb.com comes in. What a great resource for writers and art enthusiasts. Make your work tangible!