GretchenWachs.com

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For the past two decades I’ve maintained a studio northeast of Santa Fe in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains but my career really began in the pottery sheds in Eugene, Oregon, and before that in the Art Department of Alfred University in upstate New York.

An unscheduled five-month hiatus from the studio has allowed me some perspective on this very significant part of my life to notice what I notice. I look deeply into the recesses of my mind to access words for the creative impulses that drive my work and there are some things I know. I love to make things, and I enjoy the focus that this brings to me. Making art creates balance, meaning, a context, a map, and a window into my experience of this world. My hands know the tools, the textures, and the qualities of materials. My primary language is comprised of clay, paint, ink, graphite, and wax. Expression comes naturally to me, though my navigation through a painting or my way of feeling through a sculpture is never so precise as to be easily broken down into words. It is about finding a way in and then finding a way out.

I work in 2D and 3D. When I have finished a body of work, it is often time to take a step away, to work in a different way, to loosen my limbs or shake up the frame and let the dust settle and the paint dry. I have always worked in more than one medium, calling on different aspects of me. Working in clay, my hands guide me and my instincts are involved in a visceral way while painting is more abstract territory, heady, visual, complex, confounding. Printmaking and encaustic ground me through process and delight in the unexpected. One body of work informs the other, and ideas and themes converge like cross-polination.

There is movement in all of my work, sometimes kinetic and full of emotion, sometimes bold and masterful, sometime languid and tentative. My work is how I process life and find my balance. It is no surprise that I am drawn to psychology and received my masters in art therapy and counseling, a field I continue to explore with the same curiosity and creativity as a painting. It was already clear to me what a vehicle art was for self-expression, for healing the soul and connecting to a deeper truth.

That journey isn’t always easy, though I can honestly say that some of my finest moments have been in the studio, when everything is just working so well, the music is playing and the creative wheels are turning. I believe this comes across in the work, in its vitality and depth, its richness of surface and color, and the strength of its form. We love art because it takes us somewhere inside ourselves and stirs the imagination, provokes or delights the senses, and makes more of us in the process.


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