June 26, 2017
Here at the IPCC we’re excited to announce the next artist to be featured in out Artists Circle Gallery: multimedia artist Felix Vigil! Vigil is a classically trained fine artist who draws on heritage from both Jemez Pueblo and Jicarilla Apache forebears. We hope you’ll join us when his new solo show Meditations on the Journey is unveiled in an opening reception from 5 to 8pm on Friday, July 21.
Vigil has won numerous awards and gained national recognition since graduating from the prestigious Maryland Institute College of Art in 1980. His work is also displayed at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, the Eiteljorg Museum American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis, and Buffalo Thunder Resort in Pojoaque Pueblo, among other institutions and private collections.
In anticipation of his new show’s opening in a few week, Vigil was kind enough to give us some insight into his process and his philosophy—insight that we’re happy to share with the world.
Thank you for talking with us! We could say that you’re primarily a painter, but actually you work in a variety of media, right?
Yes! I love working in mixed mediums because it just opens up the possibilities of how a painting will evolve. As the work progresses I look for different combinations of colors, textures, and materials. Depending on the theme or subject matter of the piece, I try to convey a certain feeling or message. This will dictate my use of certain materials. I use a lot of handmade papers, I’m always looking for unusual types of paper from around the world.
What sort of materials will we see in this show?
In this show you’ll see oil pastels, natural leaves, charcoal, gold leaf, willow branches, poplar wood, acrylic paints, aspen wood, canvas, and Yarka (mediums which are made in Russia). I probably forgot to mention some, but these are just a sample of the materials I use.
When you approach a new work do you envision or sketch out a plan for the piece? Or do you let is evolve naturally as you work?
When I start a new painting or sculpture project, I usually start with a very minimal sketch or layout. But there are certain works that come as a result of a flash of inspiration!
I try to keep the creative process open because a painting or sculpture will evolve on its own terms. There is a certain evolution that takes place and I’m more aware of it now. Also, I’m willing to try different combinations of colors and materials that I wouldn’t before.
In the pieces that you’ve shown us so far, there’s a mixture of landscapes, figures, and abstract elements. Do you tend to work more in abstract or figurative styles?
I don’t really favor abstract or figurative elements in my work: there are always elements of both, I think because they are both equal.
The other view I have, is that the traditional Native view of the universe is very abstract. The connections we have with the world around us are very esoteric and very personal. Our languages help us connect with the concepts of the realm of the sacred: a very abstract belief system, but very real. And the figure in that belief system is just as important and significant. So the abstract and the figurative go side by side, hand in hand.
Would you say there’s a certain theme that you deal with in this particular show?
I think the unifying thought is the idea of the journey we are on. We are given life; a gift, and that gift is the journey that we walk. Along that journey we encounter many people and remarkable experiences. All the pieces that make up our lives define us. Just like a painting: the things that we use or create to decorate our lives is who we are.
Each painting or sculpture that I create defines who I am at any given time in my life. Our work defines us as well. Each painting is unique, but there is a certain thread that binds all the pieces together.
What would you like visitors to experience through your work?
The most important thing I can say is that we are all unique. Our ideas and thoughts are just as important and significant as those of other people in the world.
We as Native people have a very unique approach to life and view of the universe. Our traditional ceremonies are important elements in our lives and keeping them strong and relevant is critical.
I hope that these paintings will open your mind to the possibilities of what you can do in your own mind and life. That these works will help to define your own path, your own journey. I rely on these traditional Native elements of culture, tradition, ceremony, and language to inspire and dictate my creative energy.
Is there anything we haven’t asked that you’d like to tell people?
My son, James Francis Vigil, passed on into the Realm of the Sacred in February 2017. I would like to honor his life and the many gifts of love, passion, friendship, companionship, smiles, music, words, wisdom, and laughter that he gave us. James had very strong convictions and opinions about life, and his traditional Jicarilla, Hopi, and Hemis heritage. He loved to participate in our traditional dances and ceremonies: that was his greatest joy and happiness. He created music and the words and thoughts in his songs are of the truth and our way of life. He made many friends and wherever he went his presence would draw people to him. He always greeted everyone with a smile and a hug. Music was his passion.
My son and I traveled to many art shows across this great land. We shared our moments with songs and thoughts of life and family. He was my copilot and at times my creative genius. He brought joy to my life and to many others. We miss you James-Dolomyte! We will carry on in your honor.
I dedicate this show to my son James-Dolomyte.