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

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