A sense of place
Roseta Santiago’s latest paintings will be shown in the exhibition, The New World: A Sense of Place and Dreams, at Blue Rain Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It opens July 27 and continues through August 11.
The New World is the ancient world “discovered” by the Spanish in the early 16th century and the 21st century world in which Native Americans preserve their heritage among continuing modernization.
Now painting figures primarily, Santiago is also revisiting her earlier work painting pots and ceremonial objects in altar-like settings. “The altar pieces,” she explains, “are the way I learned to paint artifacts. They’re on white pristine cloth with a single source of light that created a bounce light, created definition and darks and lights. It created a spiritual realm in which I could honor the pots. I revisit once in awhile because I want to see my progression and what I’ve learned”
Santiago has a large collection of artifacts and borrows from local dealers such as Randy Rodriguez at Rio Bravo Trading Company and Scott Corey at Santa Fe Vintage to find the perfect pieces for her compositions. She is now painting more figures and selects wearing blankets, jewelry and other artifacts to create an ambience and to tell the story of an individual.
“When I paint the artifacts,” she says, “I’m tracing their art. I paint freehand and don’t transfer the image to the canvas in any way. When I paint a detail, I experience what the artisan was experiencing. All the handwork makes me think about the people who made these beautiful things. I research what the lines and patterns mean. It’s
part of my enjoyment in making these paintings.”
In her figurative work, she explains, “these are people who have gone through transitions in their heritage. There are a number of contemporary younger people with traditional clothing. It’s about the people who bring their heritage to the new world. They’re carrying on their heritage.”
Santiago dressed one of her Diné models in a vintage Mexican serape, photographed her and began to paint. But, the feeling wasn’t right. She asked her to come back and draped her in a traditional Navajo wearing blanket and the concept came together. “I wiped out the serape and started again,” she says.
Her Grandmother’s Blanket, oil on canvas panel, 20 x 16"
The Red Shawl, oil on canvas, 60 x 30"
The New World, oil on panel, 24 x 24"
Santa Fe Sons, oil on canvas, 55 x 36"