This blog highlights the talents of this years symposium presenters. For more information about attending this years symposium, please see

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Alison Carey

Holiday Greetings!

Here in Chicago, I am all bundled up, trying to stay out of the cold and looking forward to my second Yuma conference. The warmth of the Yuma sun cannot reach me soon enough. It will be great to see the desert sand, meet amazing artists and reunite with long time friends. 

The work I will be presenting is from my series New Kingdoms and it is influenced by biotechnology and my thoughts about the future of human evolution. Through my photographs I depict a future Earth where humans have altered the course of evolution by introducing synthetically grown organisms into the environment. This aftermath of biotechnology takes place in a post human era where man-made life forms have adapted to the natural world. Genetically engineered beings have infiltrated the Earth’s surface developing new habitats and ecosystems within the landscape. 

The sculptures in my dioramas are created to be photographed, and are made from a combination of flesh like materials that are inorganic or no longer living. These entities are without medical purpose and are benign in their existence. Contrary to my approach, there is the potential to use tissue engineering for unorthodox purposes. Particularly unsettling is the thought that someday it may be possible to construct autonomous, functioning "beings" that are able to survive outside the controlled facilities of a research laboratory.

Heart Vessel Graft
Finger Buds

As the entities in my photographs colonize the terrain, the evolution of these unique species’ usher our planet into a new biological epoch in the history of life. Through cycles of hybridization, reproduction, mutation, and extinction, survival of the fittest plays out in these scenes.

During my talk I will discuss the ideas behind my work and the materials and processes I use to create it.

I can’t wait to meet you all, and I wish you a Happy New Year, Cheers!

-Alison Carey  2014 Yuma Symposium Presenter 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Claudia Foret

  I have been participating in the Yuma Symposium for 2 years, and each year a new memory is made. What strikes me most is the camaraderie that is felt among the presenters and participants and the level of interaction that goes on. There are a lot of novice and students and what surprises me is the level of warmth and openness the presenters have for other aspiring artists. 

My level of participation is in helping promote the artists that will present for the symposium so my exchange is primarily with the local newspaper. I can't begin to tell you how much each artist presenter impresses me every year. Each coming from their own specialty. Given the level of caliber of the various artists, it was a difficult choice but I have enclosed a few images of some past artists whose work I was impressed by. I hope you enjoy as much as I have!
 Claudia Foret

 Deborah Ford

 Jody Alexander

 Jody Alexander

 Ron Jones

 Nancy Megan Corwin

 Inez Storer

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Mark Ramsour

Hi Yumans!

Twenty years after my arrival in Arizona, I discovered the Yuma Art Symposium. When I did my life was changed forever for better. Now, each year after the hub-bub of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Shows, I look forward to the peace and quiet as well as the restorative energy of the Symposium.

The pin swap and registration activities at Lute's Casino were the first events to catch my attention. I've included a few examples of my trade pins over the years herewith. Of course the presentations and demos remain the primary focus of the weekend. And many of us fondly recall the pre-9/11 forays to Mexico for fish tacos and other,...uh, consumables!

Yet the most fun of all continues to be the Saw, File and Solder Sprints. Three-member teams compete against time and each other to be the first to cut, shape and join a copper ring band. This is all done on a folding table, in a parking lot, with only the most rudimentary tools--rain, wind or sunshine! The festive atmosphere on Saturday afternoon is complete with elaborate costumes, team chants and, occasionally, cheerleaders.

Whether you are a seasoned veteran or this is will be your first Yuma experience, the Sprints are the very embodiment of the joy and camaraderie of the event. Come celebrate 35 years of Art in the Desert.

Best regards,
Board Member Yuma Symposium

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Chip Thomas

A couple years ago I was doing a wheat paste installation on a friend's outhouse at his rodeo arena.  A team roping competition was to start several hours later.  I woke up around 5 a.m., drove an hour to the site and started working before sunrise.  An 18 wheeler loaded with calves was parked nearby.  A white cowboy emerged from the cab and groggily made his way to the outhouse.  Upon seeing me he mumbled to himself "...Where else would you find on old black man wallpapering the outside of an outhouse at dawn at a rodeo event on an Indian reservation?  Only in America."  We both laughed.  In retrospect, it was an improbable moment but in the words of Spaulding Gray, it was also a perfect moment in that it captured the bridge building potential of public art.

That's the question I get asked most frequently - what is an old black doctor doing wheat pasting images of Navajo people along the roadside on the reservation?  It's an unlikely journey.  However, upon further inspection it makes perfect sense.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Julia Harris

Hello Yuma Community!  

My first Yuma experience is still months away and I’m already getting a lot out of it.  Even if you and I haven’t met, and if even if we don’t meet in February, just the possibility that we might has given me a powerful and much-needed nudge.   

I enjoy my materials (wood mostly) and techniques (carving, bending, construction…) to such an extent that I often drag my heels the closer I come to a final product (sculpture or jewelry).  Remember when you were a kid and you’d spend the afternoon running around your best friend’s house but when your parents came to pick you up you’d walk towards the door in slow-motion, as if waist-deep in flood water?  This urge to prolong the fun is probably why my desk is piled with pieces in various stages of non-completion.  

But now you are the parents at the door, gently reminding me that it’s time to wrap things up and put away the toys.  I can’t just stand up in front of an audience with a bunch of chewed-up chunks of wood and elaborate hand gestures and ask you to squint your eyes and imagine how  this chunk might one day comment on mortality or generosity or competition.  

So while I will certainly address my materials and techniques, I plan to have some shiny-new work to share.  Something I’ve been enjoying lately is working with veneer to create lightweight forms with subtle patterning.  It’s a lot like working with construction paper--the key accessories being tape, glue, and scissors.  

I am also really excited to see your work and hear about how you make it.  If we find ourselves in conversation, you can bet that these are some issues I’ll be curious about:  

What stage of your process do you find the most satisfying?  
How do you know when to stop?  
Do you ever wish you’d stopped sooner?  

Now back to work (play).  See you in February!

Julia Harrison

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sara Mast

"You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself."
Alan Watts

I like the idea of being an aperture for something larger than myself. My painting has always been about perception, with an emphasis on integrating the vision of my inner eye with what I perceive in the outer world. In 2006, following a move to the foothills of the Bridger Mountains, the horizon line that oriented me to my place on the plains of eastern Montana gave way to the bowl of sky above me, and my perception shifted. Watching the stars arc across the night sky re-organized my experience of time and space. What was once linear became cyclical. I translated this into a new body of work based on a satellite view of the planet (thank you, Google Earth), incorporating star charts and numerical equations that mapped my new experience. These paintings led me to ponder new revelations in science, from neurobiology to astrophysics, using everything from current NASA satellite data to microscopic views of neuronal dendrites as imagery. 


My recent body of work focuses on personal narrative, using painting imagery based on my father's (Gifford Morrison Mast, 1914-1972) scientific drawings, writings and US patent images from his hundreds of inventions. These paintings were part of Soundings, a multimedia, collaborative exhibition that included one fourth-generation and four third-generation familial 'creatives' in art and science who never knew their grandfather except through stories. Our collaboration explored the definitions of who we are by the stories that we tell and the memories that we keep, through an exhibition that incorporated sound, video, painting, installation and biofeedback technology. 
Dialogue 2,545,515     

Dialogue 2,630,642

A recent art/science collaborative project, Black (W)hole, has been selected for inclusion in an upcoming exhibition-in-print entitled Encaustic Works 2014, curated by artist Michelle Stuart and sponsored by R & F Handmade Paints, Kingston, NY. (To view images, go to &

Black (W)hole

Encaustic is my chosen painting medium because my work depends upon my ability to build layers of information in a luminous, almost filmic materiality. In my YUMA demonstration, I will focus on encaustic basics, demonstrating image development, use of line and texture, use of transfers, incising, collage, mixed media and monoprint processes. I will also give a brief introduction to equipment, tools, and safety considerations as well as touch upon both historical and contemporary uses of encaustic.

--Sara Mast
 2014 Yuma Art Symposium Presenter

Sunday, October 27, 2013

"How Bambi Found Her Way Into My Work" by Willem Volkersz

I have an immigrant’s fascination with America.
After my family moved from Holland to Seattle when I 
was a teenager, I began exploring the West, camera in hand, 
documenting a vibrant culture of billboards, vernacular 
architecture, and hand-painted mailboxes.  Over time, I became 
increasingly fascinated with popular culture: larger-than-life 
advertising figures, neon signs and tourist souvenirs. 

Ultimately, after art and architecture studies at the University of Washington and an MFA at Mills College, these experiences became part of my visual vocabulary.  

 Now, as I travel, I stop at second hand stores and antique malls and buy objects (often the kind that decorated our grandmothers' homes): ceramic birds and dogs and other small objects.

Birds of North America (2005) mimics Audubon’s famous compendium, except that here they are really birds of North American junk stores. 


Other objects have more personal meaning to me, like a small, bronze Statue of Liberty or a souvenir Empire State Building--reminders of my first days in the US.  Travel souvenirs abound and I pick up postcards, metal ashtrays in the shape of states, and globes.

Often, these objects help to illustrate a story.  In Western Landscape (2007), objects on a shelf below the painting comment on both the beauty as well as the rapid urbanization of the West.


Postcards and globes help to tell stories of travel and adventure, as in Selfportrait (Baggage) (1991-2005).


 In the recent series Short Stories, I explore the potential of small, suitcase-sized sculptures each of which contain a painting, an iconic neon image, and found objects.  In Orion the Huntress (2013), I continue an ongoing theme in which I explore the constellations while in another (Vincent in Paris, 2013) I return to my fascination with the life of Vincent van Gogh, whose work was much in evidence when I visited museums in Amsterdam as a boy.

In my slide lecture, I will show numerous examples of my work and the roadside culture that fascinates me and talk about the evolution of my use of found objects, the themes in my work, the process of collecting and my working methods.  

--Willem Volkersz
    2014 Yuma Symposium Presenter

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tom Ferguson

Somewhere there is an elegant quote that expresses the paradoxical idea that; there is nothing permanent in the world except change.
I like to start my day with a cup of coffee on the patio at dawn, watching the sky become light. This time of year is especially delicious because the air is cool, and the sun’s appearance and my rising are more closely synchronized. I find I’m focused more inward than outward these days and I’m paying more attention to the cycle of changes and events that mark the turning of the year. I’m thinking about how our lives cycle within the larger cycles of our planets’ progress.
There is a comfort to having a routine. We seem to crave structured activity and familiar repetition. Having time for this morning ritual before leaving home and family for the day allows me to collect my thoughts and consider the day’s schedule. Having an active mind like most people, various thoughts rise up to be considered as I sit. I often replay and marvel at the authentic and beautiful experiences that flow into my life and how there is repetition there too.
I see another set of cycles in my work activities of teaching, making, loading, and firing.
The end of my daily cycle is usually punctuated with a glass of wine and another opportunity to reflect.
Live. Enjoy. Repeat.
We just finished our fall break from school and I was fortunate to be able to spend part of my time with some friends and my son camping out as we paddled our boats down two great desert rivers, the Salt and the Gila. We’ve been down them many times before. I think a lot about our experiences on the river. I fell in with a “bad crowd” when I entered public education twelve or so years ago. I became corrupted. I found out about river running and now I spend a majority of my free time scheming about how to get a permit or organize a trip down a river. To have a select group of friends together in a wilderness area, for several days is a special experience. It simplifies the list of things you need to be concerned about. You focus on the place, and the tribe, or group you are traveling with. You move at the pace of the water. Even though the place is familiar there are always changes. I have come to realize that the river is an appropriate metaphor for life. Water, the essence of life, moves through the landscape in time. We use the water metaphor frequently such as: drinking in, absorbing, percolating, distilling, diving in, or using flood, torrent, flow, navigate, and a river of…to provide visuals for specific experiences when we attempt to express them.
The river is always changing, yet always the same, a constant and continuous cycle from the source to the sea to the source.
We live within a cycle inside a cycle inside a cycle. We expect that the events that help define our lives will reoccur weekly, monthly and yearly. Always the same, yet changed. We can’t always know precisely what to expect. There is beauty in that.
Thirty years ago I took a trip to Yuma to check out an art “thing” on the advice of one of my mentors. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I figured I’d enjoy it. I ended up having a wonderful time. I met some new people who have had a big influence on me. I saw some great art. It was inspirational to listen to artists as they explained their work and their creative process. My personal creativity was rejuvenated. I was able to attend the next year, and I’ve been returning regularly. It’s the Yuma Symposium. It isn’t your typical art “conference”. I look forward to it every year. It is my favorite opportunity to reconnect with good friends and meet other like-minded creative folks. Someone observed that; “Friends are the family you get to choose.” When we’re packing for our Yuma trip I always have an anxious expectation of seeing those familiar faces, and anticipating the opportunity to learn and meet some new people. The format is familiar. The time of year and location are the same, but there are always surprises.
It begins with a pin swap, and it ends with a dance.

Tom Ferguson

Tom on the river
 Opening rituals at the Yuma Symposium National Saw File & Solder Sprints

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Giving Tree by Kimberly Winkle

As a craft artist I have consistently been impressed by the unwavering generosity of my peers.  When a question arises about a technique or material, it is quickly snapped up by another maker who promptly answers it with happiness and generosity.  This act of boundless sharing is one of the wonderful aspects of the craft community that I cherish most.  I am lucky and honored to be a part.
I have been involved in various collaborative art making events, which have all proven to be utterly fantastic.  However, unfortunately, I have not had the privilege to attend the Yuma Symposium before. Until now!!!  I am very eager to forge new friendships, share techniques, exchange ideas and have a heap of fun.  The collective energy of all in attendance, including myself, is sure to be magical. 
In keeping with the giving nature, I am super excited to share some of my techniques of using Milk Paint on wood.  The material is unlike any other painting media in a variety of ways, which I’ll happily explain at Yuma (teaser!).  But, some of my favorite characteristics of Milk Paint are the surface qualities and its ability to amplify textured surfaces. You can see some of this displayed on my House on a Hillside Boxes.  The curvature of the boxes suggests the swollen arc of a hillside, while the striated texture is evocative of windblown grass.  I will be presenting the techniques I used on these boxes, along with other techniques, at Yuma.  The emphasis of my presentation will be on combining shaping, texturing, and mark making methods with Milk Paint on wood.  But, it can also be applied to a variety of other supports.  The paint really is that good.
On the other end of things, I am equally excited to indulge in the bounty of the event by soaking up as much of the Yuma experience as possible.  I am excited to see what everyone else is presenting, sharing and making so that I can go back to my studio in rural Tennessee reinvigorated, energized, and with a whole slew of new friends and inspiration. 
 Hillside Boxes by Kimberly Winkle

Hillside Boxes detail

 Red Oculus

 Red Oculus detail

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Lanny Bergner

I first started working with metal mesh in 1983.  That was my final year of Graduate School at Tyler School of Art.  Back then I was working with aluminum insect screening and making all these suspended organic forms out of strips of screening.  It wasn’t until about four years ago that I began torch treating stainless steel mesh to create patterns and drawings on the mesh.  This has opened up a whole new world for me.  Prior to torch burning, structure and process was the primary driver of my work.
I included a few photos of me making “Columnar,” of one of my torch treated stainless steel works.  It was made out of 15 sheets of stainless steel mesh that I first sprayed with lacquer (the lacquer gives the mesh a bronze-like look), and then I burned the pattern/drawing into the mesh using a propane torch.  I can control the tone by how close I hold the flame to the mesh and how quickly I pass it over the surface and paying close attention to how orange the metal gets.  I treat the torching process much like drawing or painting.  I have never been that much of a pencil and charcoal drawer.   In the past I would draw for brief stints and then I would always be lured back into 3-D works.  But, since flame drawing is such a dynamic medium I have been increasingly pulled into the drawing/painting world and I just love it.  Now torch work is an integral part of my art.
I also use silicone and glass frit in my work.  One of the photos shows me pressing clear silicone through one of “Columnar” torch treated mesh squares.  Once the silicone is pressed through the mesh it takes on a bead-like appearance.  I use glass frit as a color element.  In “Columnar” I use it to surface Smoothfoam spheres.  I first coat the spheres with clear silicone and then press the frit into the silicone.
After exploring mesh for over 30 years I still feel like I have hardly scratched the surface of the material’s creative potential.  One piece just leads to the next.  Currently, I am working on large vessel forms for a show this September at Snyderman-Works Galleries in Philadelphia.  Most of these pieces will be made out of heavier gage stainless steel mesh, that way the vessel forms will be strong and self-supporting.  I’m also introducing more color into my work by mixing powdered pigment with clear silicone (I should have some images of this body of work by conference time). Creativity just keeps marching on and I keep enjoying the journey. 
 Lanny Bergner, 2014 Yuma Presenter

Burning pattern into the mesh with propane torch for "Columnar"

Pressing silicone onto the mesh for "Columnar"

Constructing "Columnar"


Finished work- "Columnar"   

 "Primordial Muse 2"

 "Primordial Muse 5"