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

Tuesday, December 23, 2014



For most of the past decade I’ve made it a priority to attend the Yuma Symposium each year. I am at a point now where it is almost impossible for me not to go. I can’t imagine not traveling to a warm, dry place in the middle of winter to meet up with a few hundred friends to listen to, talk about, and see some fascinating artwork for a few intense days.

The symposium takes place just about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Now coming from the deep forested green and misty coastal plain of east North Carolina what that means for me, an unapologetic westerner at heart (20 years in Texas, 30+ years in Montana with sojourns into Oklahoma and New Mexico) is Space, Light, and Color.

But I’m not just talking about the landscape. At Yuma there is the physical space of the southern Rockies but there is also the space to talk shop, be an artist without justifying it (you know what I mean), play hard, get inspired, and breathe in deep, long-lasting friendships. There is the burnished light of the dry southwestern climate but also a light-ness of spirit, of belonging, and of possibility in new thought & direction. There is the color of the turquoise sky, purple mountains (honestly!), adobe sands, and Hispanic culture but there is also the color of artistic character, material, image, and creativity that infuses one with a spectrum of renewed energies.

Space, light, and color. That’s why it’s a priority for me.

Milk paint samples from an artist’s demo

 Inside Lute’s during the pin swap

 Sunrise over the Colorado 

Sunset during the Sprints

 Dancing on Saturday night
 Winners of the Saw, File, & Solder Sprints.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Max Lehman

Max Lehman Article for Artsy Shark
Originally from Fort Knox Kentucky Max Lehman currently resides in Nambe, New Mexico. Max attended college at Arizona State University in the 1980’s, majoring in Media Arts while also studying Pre-Columbian art history.

Most of his training in ceramics came by practical experience. He apprenticed at the F&R Pottery Studio in Cave Creek north of Phoenix and later went on to work for the Red Horse Clay Company.

Much of my current body of work is based upon the concept of Dystopia*. I intentionally attempt to make my pieces “creepy-cute” this is a direct response to the prevailing principles of Pop Surrealism. I have a tendency to pick and choose my cultural references at will. Exercising unrestrained disregard for tradition or convention gives me the ability to process new ideas rapidly.

Skeletons are a recurring theme in my work. My fascination with skeletons is primarily from exposure to Mexican culture and immersion in the Punk music scene. I do not see skeletons as representations of death. The Mexican folk artist Alfonso Castillo has influenced my approach to art, in imagery, construction and decoration. He is one of the most highly regarded Days of the Dead artists.

My connection with Hispanic culture is due to me being one of the first Anglo artists voted into a Hispanic Art Collective that was based in a downtown barrio in Phoenix Arizona in the 1980s. Movimiento Artistico Del Rio Salado or MARS for short was a foundational period and it was during my time there that I formed my earliest concepts on art formulated out of street culture, Mexican Folk Art, Dia de los Muertos and the concepts of cultural diversity and inclusiveness.

Living in and around Santa Fe for 25 years has created a deep connection to northern New Mexico, its people and the quirkiness of daily life here.

Presently Max is Webmaster at the New Mexico Tourism Department in addition to pursuing his full time art career. This situation provides a unique perspective of moving between the technological to the tactile realm on a daily basis.

* Dystopia: A futuristic, imagined universe in which oppressive societal control and the illusion of a perfect society are maintained through corporate, bureaucratic, technological, moral, or totalitarian control. Dystopias, through an exaggerated worst-case scenario, make a criticism about a current trend, societal norm, or political system.

  Gidget Goes to Saturn (1988 Space Series) low fired earthenware with acrylic paint
36”h 18”w 12”d

 Templo Azul (1993 Neo Mayan Series) low fired earthenware with acrylic paint
24”h 15”w 12”d
Bubbles (1996 Dogs in Drag Series) low fired earthenware with acrylic paint
32”h 14”w 12”d

   Carmen Miranda (2007 Cha Cha Bunny Series) low fired earthenware with glaze, underglaze and acrylic paint
34”h 16”w 12”d

 Mayan Mobile (2009 Car Series) low fired earthenware with glaze and underglaze
29”h 10”w 15”d
Red Skeleton with Black Birds (2011) low fired earthenware with glaze, underglaze and acrylic paint   27”h 14”w 11”d
Tlalocan, Paradise of the Rain Goddess 
(2011 installation created for the Santa Fe Storefront Windows Project)
ceramic elements low fired earthenware with glaze, underglaze, acrylic paint, wire and neon, other elements painted wood, electric lights and printed fabric.
12’h 16’w 14’d (measurements in feet)
Black Eyed Susan (2013)  low fired earthenware with glaze, underglaze and wire
38”h 16”w 12”d
Juntos Para Siempre (2013 for the Herradura Tequila Barrel Art Project)
ceramic elements low fired earthenware with glaze, underglaze, acrylic paint, and wire, other elements an actual oak tequila barrel (empty) painted wood, and electric lights.
48”h 42”l 28”w

Dawn in the House of Knives (2014) low fired earthenware with glaze, underglaze, paint and wire
62”h 24”w 12”d



POP Gallery
142 Lincoln Ave, Suite 102
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501


Red Lodge Clay Center
123 South Broadway
Red Lodge, Montana 59068


William Havu Gallery
1040 Cherokee Street, Denver, Colorado 80204

Selected Private and Public Collections:
Patrick Doust and Richard North Columbus OH
Sara and David Lieberman Paradise Valley AZ
Sanford M Besser Santa Fe NM
Jim Kolva and Pat Sullivan Spokane WA
Albion Fenderson Phoenix AZ
Marek Wozniak Omaha NE
Arizona State University Art Museum Ceramics Research Center Tempe AZ
Santa Fe Community College Santa Fe NM

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Laritza Garcia

Hello Yumans!
My second Yuma experience is on the horizon and I am ever so thankful for the community that the symposium provides for emerging and seasoned artist alike. The body of work I will be present is shaped by my understanding of art as a coping mechanism and my long-term affiliation with Youth Art-Reach programs.
Powder Coated jewelry components, bench shot 2014  
Working with youth significantly impacts my visual narrative.  I adapt certain traits and tactics of playful behavior into my design aesthetic such as exploratory construction and intuitive drawing skills that bring elements of delight to the “serious” adult landscape.
Left: Exploration drawing. Ink, spray paint, pastel
Right: Double Drop brooch. Copper, Steel, Sterling Sliver, Powder Coat

For my demo, I will guide symposium participants through an exquisite corpse exercise to collectively assemble wearable objects from mixed media materials using low-tech methods. This method fosters collaboration, spontaneity and thinking with your hands. Can’t wait!
Exquisite Corpse, ECU graduate seminar 
My first teaching position was for the City of Austin’s Totally Cool, Totally Arts program which helps teens to connect to school, cope with difficult situations, and manage stress. This gig opened my eyes to the joys of teaching and to the notion that play is one of the key factors leading to happiness in adulthood. Through my professional experiences, I’ve learned that play helps builds understanding, encourages communication and teaches us how to be good citizens: share, take turns and listen to one another.     

Totally Cool, Totally Art student work. 
I strive to create pieces of adornment that remind us of the lasting impression of childlike behavior and restorative properties of creative thinking.
Brooch Trio & Tangerine necklace: Copper, brass, steel, Sterling Silver, Powder Coat
I currently live In Austin and teach Surface Design, Metals and 3D foundations at Texas State University. Over the past year I’ve also relished the opportunity to collaborate on community enhancement projects with   Culture and Arts Education division. Color Abound!
Dougherty Arts Center Enhancement program: mixed media mandala. 
I look forward to meeting up with new and old friends, please say HELLO.
Until then, HAPPY MAKING!
 More info:

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Caroline Gore

Caroline Gore in Philadelphia Studio, November 2014
photo: Patricia Huston
Caroline Gore is an artist currently working in Philadelphia. She recently joined the faculty at The University of the Arts as an Associate Professor of Jewelry/Metals in the Craft & Material Studies program.  Gore holds a BFA in Crafts with a jewelry focus from Virginia Commonwealth University and her MFA in Metal Design from East Carolina University. Although her studio practice is rooted in jewelry and metalsmithing, her work varies in media, scale and implementation – ranging from jewelry to sculptural installations, photography and large-scale drawings.

In 2012, she was awarded a sabbatical from teaching, the exhibition …mercurial silence… was the result of this intense period of time spent in studio where through research and experimentation she plumbed deeper into material meaning, the histories jewelry and objects hold and our unique ability to process memory though remembering, forgetting and transforming. 

Gore’s lecture at Yuma will reveal the research and investigations that led to the work in the exhibition.
...mercurial silence...
The exhibition …mercurial silence… is the culmination of an investigation of how grief and loss manifest in society. Comparative meanings were sought through multidisciplinary research of historical jewelry, Roman myth, and materials and objects as they relate to commonalities across human experience.

Memorializing tragic events through leaving objects and ephemera at sites of violence and tragedy is now pervasive: in doing so we attempt to process what has happened, honor victims, and give some physical form to loss. However this was not the case 30 years ago – we tended to walk away from the actual site and perhaps more directly towards one another.

Looking closer at objects in relation to personal losses – how does one thoughtfully negotiate possessions of loved ones received through inheritance? As in processing grief there is no clear answer, instead we search our lived experience as it reveals itself over time through remembering and forgetting. Objects we have lived with, that others have chosen and lived with, are often murky and become laden with a multitude of meaning. Transformation of these objects, while at first may seem an act of violence in itself, offers to make the negotiation physical – despite the persistence of grief continually marking and changing the interior of ourselves.

Caroline Gore, installation view of ...mercurial silence... at Western Michigan University, Kerr gallery, 2014 reclaimed cherry from inherited furniture, jet, black spinel, silk, 18K gold, oxidized sterling silver, brass, seven identical silk dresses, tintypes, black glass ambrotypes, photo: Caroline Gore

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

John Risseeuw

In 1972, when perhaps less than a hundred people in the U.S. had learned hand papermaking, I received the rudimentary basics while a grad student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It was an eye-opening gift to be able to make paper of the size, color, thickness, shape, and content I chose for my print projects. Eight years later, I came to Arizona State University to begin a new faculty position establishing book art courses within the already solid Printmaking Area of the then Department of Art and discovered that Dean Jules Heller had created a papermill a few years earlier pursuant to his current interests in contemporary hand papermaking and the book he was writing, which became Papermaking, Watson-Guptill, 1978. 

View of the ASU School of Art papermill studio

Feeding fibers into a Hollander beater to make pulp.
Pulling sheets of handmade paper.

Within a couple of years, with the book art studio well under way with presses, type, equipment, and students, I began teaching papermaking in Dr. Heller’s mill, learning more and more about the process, craft, and medium as I went along. By 1988, I realized that the content of handmade paper could contribute to the content of the work printed on it, and new conceptual doors began opening up that I slowly explored over the next 25 years. The Keepsake of the Risseeuw Family Farm was printed on paper made from sisal binder twine, jute feed sacks, straw, hemp ropes, and cotton seed sacks from that farm. It seemed to make sense.

A Keepsake of the Risseeuw Family Farm

In 1991, Pyracantha Press staff printer Dan Mayer and I decided to print a broadside to commemorate the bicentennial of the signing of the Bill of Rights. We printed it on paper made from cotton American flags and blue jeans, two quintessential American fibers that we felt embodied the freedoms of the Bill of Rights. The paper is purple because of the blend of red, white, and blue fibers.

The Bill of Rights, 1991

Many projects later, I chose landmines and landmine victims as subject matter in a multi-year project. I interviewed victims in Cambodia and Mozambique, asking them for articles of clothing. I also received clothing from victims in other countries, making paper pulp from the clothes plus plant fibers from the minefields and including shredded currency of the countries that make and use landmines. On the paper, I printed stories and facts, selling them to produce revenue to donate to the organizations that help victims and demine the land. To date, over $25,000 has been donated.

 Strange Fruit, 2002
 La Explosion, 2003

Artist books of handmade paper have provided me with yet another form in which to exploit the use of content-specific handmade paper.
Children of War, 2005

 The Politics of Underwear, 1973

Spirit Land, 1996
 Spirit Land, detail, 1996
 Eco Songs, 2000

Total Fucking Idiots, 2003
Boom!, 2011

Subjects include underwear as political analogy, fibers of place, the ecology of the earth, political chaos, and the fragmentation of lives. Making Paper Mean Something has been an interest of mine for a long time, through my printmaking, bookmaking, and papermaking. It is also the title of my presentation for the 2015 Yuma Symposium. I hope to see you there.

John Risseeuw


School of Art

Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts

Arizona State University

Sunday, November 9, 2014

"Come To Yuma If You Want To Change Your Life" by Neely Tomkins

This is a sentiment I’ve heard several times over the years. The first time was in the 80’s. …..Al Gilmore telling 8 students in Montana why they should all jump in a pickup truck, with camping gear and drive thru sleet and snow to get here!
OK, really?
Last year was the last time, when Danielle James used it as the title of her 4-part blog about her Yuma Symposium virgin voyage on the CraftHaus website. Hilarious. (Link below)
Let me digress a bit. I was just back in Springfield, Ohio for homecoming at my alma mater. It’s been at least 40 years since I’ve seen the leaves turn. The Wittenberg campus looked gorgeous.
I did a little homework before I left, going thru the one yearbook I still had. I also got in touch with some folks I wanted to see. I got a late start, so not many could make the late plans to come, but many I remembered were there. Forty+ years is a long time to look back. Looking at those faces and trying to see the face I knew years ago was easy for some, who haven’t changed much, but really eye-opening for the ones whose lives have altered their appearance beyond what I could recognize. What really impressed me was how friendly everyone was, old friends or new.
It’s been over a week since I’ve been back and I am looking at people my age in a new way…..That lady moves like a crazy dancer….. or……That guy was probably the funniest character in his class.
The same thing happens during the Yuma Symposium. For many it has turned into a huge annual Homecoming. I’ve watched friends age physically, seen them mature artistically and been proud of their successes. People talk to me like we are long lost friends. Some names I remember, some I don’t. I’m bad with names, so that’s my excuse.
Having been involved since before we started counting makes it around 40 years. Let me digress one more time. When Pete Jagoda and George and me first moved here in the early 70’s, we were fresh out of grad school with MFA’s that would surely help us set the art world on fire. Soon, we started to miss our artist friends and wondered what they were doing. Pete and George started inviting them to Yuma to share them with our new Yuma art community. This took the form of weekend workshops at Arizona Western College. Those workshops, born out of the need to reach into the outside art world and pull it here to Yuma, have grown into what we have today.
The next symposium marks 36 years since we’ve been counting. So what brings people back year after year?
Quotes from the campfire:
You can be yourself here. It is a safe place.
Nobody thinks you’re obsessed with art. Nobody judges.
The stage is set for networking.
Everyone is so friendly, sharing and knowledgeable.
I get to see what my peers are doing.
For you Yuma Symposium virgins, invite a friend to join you. Start your tradition of coming to this unique total immersion art weekend. Make new friends that you will stay in touch with all year long? What will make you want to come back year after year?
--Neely Tomkins
   executive director for the Yuma Arts Symposium

Monday, February 17, 2014

Are you ready for the Pin Swap and Pin Auction? by Teresa Burgher

Are you ready for the famous Lute’s Casino pin swap? I am. Last year I did a post with pictures of my favorite pins. This year I just wanted to tell a brief story about my pin process for any newbies who are interested in getting started and getting involved.

First, take any idea that seems doable and get cracking. You will need more time than you think to fabricate even the simplest of pins. I am a notoriously untalented craftsperson and have made some of the faultiest pins ever in the history of the Yuma Pin swap. Since any pin that someone is kind enough to share with me is a total gift I am inclined to the egalitarian principle of first come first served, and give my pins to the first fifty people who ask.

In fact, I set that number and goal years ago when faced with the daunting reality of coveting pins from some of the most talented makers in the country. That is why they invented the auction. It is an amazing way to help the Symposium stay financially solvent AND a terrific way to acquire the most beautiful pins from the event. It kind of put the pin slobs like me on an even footing with the pin elite and has allowed me the pleasure of dabbling in the fierce hot competition of bidding for my favorite pieces.

Last year I was actually pleased enough with my pin, a screen printed silk flower with political undertones, to keep two of the best and offer them to the pin auction. I was thrilled that someone bid on them and took them home.

This year I’ve made four pins as a set. I set out with the theme of ‘35 Pins’ in honor of our 35th anniversary. I was going to make all of the pieces out of 35 safety pins. My idea took on several permutations and in the end I fell short by one and finished 34 pins with some kind of reference to the number 35 or pins. Anyway, it was fun.

That leaves me with 30 to trade. I’m trying an economic principle of supply and demand. I hope it works and that due to the short supply, someone will be wild to acquire my auction pins and they will demand a higher price. But let’s get real, and please, take pity on my pin pride! On Friday night when you see my bid sheet is blank, throw me a bone and bid my pins up. I’ve got some serious competition, and every bid is for a good cause.

So, if you are new to the Symposium, or if you have been dragging your feet, it’s not too late to make a few pins and get in on the fun. And for the thirty of you who get to registration early, well, I’ve still got a pin for you.

--Teresa Burgher
Executive Committee, 
Yuma Symposium Board of Directors 

Julie Anand

Yuma friends,
I decided to use this year's post to describe a collaborative project I worked on over the summer, Río Canciòn. I received a grant from Arizona State University's Global Institute of Sustainability to travel to Honduras to work with my brother John Blake Batten of Guaruma, an environmental education non-profit 

Over the course of a week, we made art with about one hundred youth of the villages of Las Mangas and El Pital, about an hour up river into the jungle from La Ceiba on the Carribean coast. We made Mundos Pequeños—tiny microcosms of found materials and modeling clay to explore ideas of scale. 

I also introduced the students to cyanotypes, a turn of the century method for making blueprint photographs, so that they could experience analog light phenomena and explore patterns in nature printing plant material from their surroundings. We talked about Anna Atkins, quite possibly the first female photographer, who used this method to make the first book illustrated by photographs in her Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions. I was interested in having these kids recognize that people can study plants for a living and also in gesturing to female empowerment by referencing a botanist/artist from 1843.
Students made both blueprints on paper and also contributed their blueprints on cloth to a collaborative tapestry. 

Ultimately, we had enough funding to bring Camillo Lopez and John Blake Batten of Guaruma up to Arizona for a culminating exhibition at ASU with outcomes from the workshops as well as over a hundred of the student's digital photographs of their incredible ecosystems. 

It was truly a wonderful collaboration and I am deeply impressed with the vision of these young people and with the work my brother is doing in Honduras. Wanted to sing the praises of and share an experience with you all. Can't wait to see you once again at our community shindig!
 --Julie Anand   ASU Professor and Yuma Symposium Board Member