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

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Daniel Kariko - Suburban Symbiosis

Insectum Domesticus 
"A Micro-Bestiary"
I would like to introduce a project that investigates our relationship to suburban landscape through micro images of locally found insects and other arthropods. My series of photographs Suburban Symbiosis: Insectum domesticus (2011-present) utilizes the combination of Scanning Electron Microscope and optical Stereo Microscope, in order to achieve a “portrait”-like effect inspired by the tradition of 17th Century Dutch and Flemish painters. 

Dryopthorine Weevil 

Insects find way into our homes no matter how vigilant we are in our effort to keep the nature on the outer side of our windowpanes. Most people, on encountering an insect in their home, will poison it, squash it, or quickly usher it out the door. During my investigation of suburban experience, I started recording the indoor wildlife consistent with the environment my subdivision occupies. 

Pill Bug

In the Southeast of the United States, where I live, the seasons can be measured by the occurrences of different insect swarms. About 84% of known animals belong to the Arthropod Phylum. Zoologists estimate that number of insects species alone could be as high as 10 million. Taxonomists name and describe about 2000 species of insects annually. Unfortunately, in spite of their numbers and variety, they are vanishing at an alarming rate. Many species of insects will become extinct before they are even discovered, due to habitat loss, climate change, and other environmental issues. From newsworthy bee colony collapses to recent noticeable absence of dead insects on our windshields, some species fell by 75% to 90% in the last 20 years. As they are not charismatic megafauna, theirs is a silent extinction.

Owlet Moth

These little (and sometimes not so little) home invaders are natural product of our own occupation of their habitat. As we keep expanding our subdivisions to the outskirts of towns, we inhabit recently altered environments. This project investigates the results of our habitat’s expansion into rural areas and relationships between suburban landscape and it’s inhabitants- both human and insect.

Red Carpenter Ant 

This project started in 2011, a year after I moved to North Carolina suburbs, and started finding small Carpet Beetle larvae in my rented duplex. Shortly after, I was given a chance to use scientific imaging equipment at the biology department of my university. Insects I photograph are found during my daily routines, either at home, or at work, and are titled after an unspecified location, and a partial date, further hinting on the style of presentation of a scientific specimen. 

Dermestid Larva

In general, this project investigates environmental and political aspects of landscape, use of land and cultural interpretation of inhabited space. This anthropomorphic presentation of our closest, often invisible, co-habitants in a humorous, quasi-scientific way, is an invitation to consider the evidence of the human impact on the landscape as we constantly redraw boundaries between us and the natural environment. In the age of popular “citizen science”, this project is an honest and “tongue-in-cheek” endeavor by an artist to observe a near-by natural world from an unusual angle. 

Cuckoo Wasp 

The “portraits” are composites of a number of exposures with Scanning Electron Microscope and Stereoscopic Microscope completed in collaboration with East Carolina University’s Imaging Core Facility. I carefully arrange the LED lighting, small reflectors and diffusers, creating portrait-studio lighting on a micro scale. Multiple images from two separate microscopes are combined in order to “stack” the various focal distances and achieve an optimal focus for my “models”. 
At this point, the series consists of close to 80 images of commonly found insects and other arthropods.


The book of my images, titled Aliens Among Us: Extraordinary Portraits of Ordinary Bugs is schedule to be published on March 2nd, 2020 by Liveright Books. It contains 68 portraits of arthropods, each accompanied with a full-body illustration from artist Isaac Talley, and fascinating character descriptions from entomologist Tim Christensen.

For more information about Daniel and his work, please click HERE

For more information about attending Yuma Art Symposium please click HERE

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Yuma 2020 Presenter - Marie Bergstedt

There are so many things we can try to make better. Thanks to Yuma Art Symposium for giving me an opportunity to think about it with you.  I will focus on the theme of Amendments in a presentation, a brief demonstration and with a few artworks in the West Gallery of the Yuma Art Center January through February 2020.

It could be said that all of my artwork is just a set of self-portraits.  I say that because they are all about people and conditions I have seen. Those observations affect me in my own particular way and I sift through them to a portrait and story of someone who has experienced what I noticed. But, I know my interpretation cannot be taken as the “truth."  It is just the way I work it through, with a hope for something that can apply to the experience of many others and may be just a bit better or have a touch of humor in what usually begins as a negative concern.

"Triker" 2009
Hand crochet and wire sculpting with gut, button work, 
recycled parts of metal tricycle, and reconstructed antique doilies

Most of my adult life was invested as a development director in not-for-profit institutions. I needed a dependable income to insure that I would be able to support myself and save enough to convert to a full-time art career. Fortunately I found jobs where I was in close contact with many creative people who kept my brain busy thinking even when I had little time to set my hands in motion.

Once those hands got to moving, I found that what I really wanted was to skip the formal art techniques I had studied over the years and find a way to use the more personal methods I learned as a child…sewing, knitting, and crochet.  I was thinking about stories from my childhood and issues that seemed very personal, but also universal.  To me these hand techniques seemed the best way for me to tell those stories.  So, I began.

"Countdown" 2008
Hand crochet over wire sculpting

My first fiber artwork fingered through painful childhood memories and were actually often self-portraits.  I moved through health issues of friends and family, my homeless brother, my foster mother’s aging and death, and untold tales of mysterious relatives.  In every case, telling the story was a growth experience for me, both in resolving an issue and expanding my artistic approach. Each personally known story also had a more universal application that I hoped could reach others with hope and sometimes laughter.

"Mikey of Mallory" 2012 
Hand crochet, stitching and button work

In recent years, my thoughts are more focused on obvious current questions: border issues, the role of women, and gun violence, along with continuing health and aging. Always there is a relative or friend whose experience fits the issue.  

I hope you will join me in unbuttoning stories and brokering amendments for a positive journey forward.

Marie Bergstedt working on "Fit" 2018
 Hand knitting, crochet, and stitching

For more information about Marie Bergstedt and her work  PRESS HERE

Marie will present her work at the 2020 Yuma Art Symposium

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Danielle James

From the months of December to August if you happen to drive south over the run down St. Georges bridge crossing into what some would call “slower lower” Delaware you might notice a strange looking site on the side of Route 13. A large white old style farm silo that looks like it crawled out of the depths of hell sits silent waiting for the last weekend in September to emerge. Through the years it has been the recipient of many a facelift, including most recently a set of  flashing red eyes, but since 1996 this regional road side anomaly Frightland Haunted Attractions has been scaring the daylights out of its customers every Halloween season.

This was also the place I called home every October of my formative years. I worked in the “make-up trailer” every weekend from (6pm to 1am) turning some 200 seasonal employees into witches, zombies, ghouls and clowns to haunt the 1,300 acres that made up the Frightland compound. One of my best jobs was one of my first jobs and I realize now that this job offered me something at 17 years old that some people never experience in their entire lifetime. The feeling of being in love with what you do everyday. I will never have a job like it again and never feel the pride of making a grown man run away screaming in terror at the simple sound of of my clown bicycle horn.

In the summer months I would volunteer to work on updating the existing buildings and help to build new places for the next attraction to live. Sometimes I would be asked to use hundreds of donated books to create a hidden door library in what we called “Idealia Manor” or using a cherry picker (for the first time) go up 20 ft in the air to paint the stripes on the “circus tent” on the clown set that was part of the hayride. This place gave me purpose in my dreary high school life. My first opportunity to work with a diverse creative team to create a visual experience that was unique to that place. I was extremely proud to be able to contribute to what I was convinced (at the time) was the only cool thing in Delaware. Nowhere in the world is like Frightland. It is now 10 years later and I feel like I can still say that with one hundred percent certainty.

Every time I take one of my road trips I prefer to drive on non-interstate highway systems to absorb a bit more regional culture of the location I am traveling through (and to see less Cracker Barrels). I see hundreds of places that were once like Frightland. Dinosaur World in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, The Land of Oz in North Carolina, or Bushkill Park in Philadelphia. All of them once thriving unique whimsical business’s now quiet, but still standing with a patina of chipped paint, rust and time. For me these are places of inspiration and act as monuments to the people who dare to go through with a crazy dream. 

Hand sculpted concrete and chicken wire dinosaurs. A highly curated garden wonderland inspired by the Land of Oz (complete with yellow brick road). This is not your soulless franchised Dave and Busters entertainment, this has love attached and can only be experienced at one place in the whole world. I love everything about these places, right down to the hand painted menu boards at the snack stand. These locations encapsulate a specific type of commercial art (before tech) that grabbed hold of our collective imagination and never let go. The type of Willy Wonka business sense and creative stubbornness necessary to pull off a drive through dinosaur park in the Ozark Mountains is something I admire and believe is very important to conserving our regional history and identity as Americans.

It’s the haunted houses, the diners, and the UFO museums that compose the DNA of my America. In my jewelry series “Mile Marker” I create miniatures to commemorate these fading locations and the interactions I have there. Every person at each BBQ shack, juke joint, diner, hotel, and roadside attraction can provide an opportunity for a valuable exchange of lessons and these exchanges serve for me as a catalyst to make more work. I am afraid my generation is losing their adventurous spirit. My work attempts to connect to the human part of us to inspire people to turn off their GPS and pickup a road atlas.

Danielle James will present her work at the 2019 Yuma Art Symposium

See more about Danielle's work HERE

See more about the 2019 Yuma Art Symposium HERE 

Monday, January 28, 2019

Sydney Scherr

Mohan’s Chariot: A Journey into Divine Creativity

I want to thank the Presentation Committee for selecting “Mohan’s Chariot: A Journey into Divine Creativity” for this years Yuma Symposium. It is an honor to introduce your audience to the extraordinary history, and experience, of the chariot maker. 

In the Hindu religion chariots are used as traveling temples, called temple cars, that are used to bring temple festivals and prayer to the community when the community members are unable to find their way to the temple. Chariots are made with a sense of reverence and devotion that is breathtaking to see and feel: it is considered a blessing to work on a chariot and I now know this is true.

I was invited to join a team of silversmiths from Tamil Nadu, India, to participate in the creation of a chariot for Sri Ganesar Alayam, a Hindu temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I am the only women in the world to have been given this honor as this is a specifically male creation made by those who have learned this ancient art at the feet of their fathers and grandfathers.

In addition to being a chariot maker, I documented the process of creating this splendid moving temple that is 22 feet tall, weighs over 1 ton of silver and is comprised of many thousands of chased and repoussed silver panels, 7000 hand made silver nails and 102 large enamels. It is the only chariot in the world adorned with enamels, and these were my contribution to this remarkable rolling temple. To witness and participate in this creation, and the lively environment where it was made, is to enjoy the embrace of a community of metalsmiths so rich in similarities yet distinctly culturally unique. This journey is not only in recognition of the historical and spiritual depth found in Mohan’s studios, this journey describes a familiar thread that engages all creative individuals. It is the intuitive connection to work and working that compels us as artists

Sydney Scherr will present at Yuma Art Symposium 2019

See more about Sydney's work HERE

See more about Yuma Art Symposium HERE

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Karen Jilly

It is truly an honor to have been selected as a Yuma Arts Symposium presenter. For approximately 30 years, I have been making paintings, drawings, and prints of the contemporary urban landscape.

Being a native of Los Angeles, cityscapes hold a special kind of beauty for me which require embracing all aspects of them: from the gritty to the refined. Within my pieces, I try to portray feelings such as hope, struggle, grace, fragility, and strength, so that my work becomes a metaphor for life and all that it encompasses.
I use the complexity of architectural elements, often in the form of freeway columns, telephone poles, and construction scaffolding, to provide structure and stability.  Barbed wire, hazard signs, and traffic cones depict ideas of strife and despair, while exaggerated perspectives create psychological tension.  In contrast to the darker elements, the use of backlighting represents hope and dreams. While all of my works are devoid of human figures, many contain house or roof shapes that symbolize a life within the landscape.

Home, Mixed Media with Varnish on Paper, 48 x 72 inches, 2015

City of Angels V, Charcoal on Paper, 38 x 52 inches, 1991

Pacific Coast Highway V, Oil on Paper, 30 x 42 inches, 1991

Watch, Trip, Crash, Soar, Oil on Wood Panel, 72 x 96 inches, 2005

In addition to an overview of selected images from my career, my presentation will feature a time-lapse sequence covering the six-month evolution of my painting entitled Nest, from its inception to its completion. 

The series of images will encompass the good, the bad, the ugly, the cussing, the distress, the obliteration, and the final rectification.  This sneak peek into my mindset while working, will also cover some of my influences, as well as a couple of cool tricks that I use to draw perspective.

Nest, Acrylic on Wood Panel, 48 x 48 inches, 2018

In 2001, Master Printer (and past Yuma Arts Presenter!), John Armstrong, introduced me to the Dremel Tool as an etching drill for use on monoprint plates.  I began transferring this activity to other surfaces.

I will conclude my presentation with a Dremel Tool demonstration, not only as a technique for etching printmaking plates, but also as a drawing device, both additive and subtractive.  The below images all contain different examples of Dremel tool use.

Footnote, Power Tool engraved Monoprint, image 21 x 13 ½ inches on 30 x 22 paper, 2002

On The Drive II, 15 x 10 inches, 2001

Misfit, Mixed Media on Paper, 33 x 60 inches, 2003

See more information on Karen Jilly  HERE

See more information on Yuma Art Symposium  HERE