Find Me Guilty

Oftentimes we think that still life paintings tell quiet stories or personal, introspective narratives. I’ve certainly been guilty of it, but I’m not going to hide behind my pride. I’ve discovered that I couldn’t have been more wrong! Still life artwork can tackle huge narratives, including cultural histories, traditions, religiosity, and even the symbolism of life and death.

Turid Pedersen's still life paintings take you to a whole other world.
Turid Pedersen’s still life paintings take you
to a whole other world.

The work of Turid Pedersen serves as a reminder of this fact in a very real way. Living near the Mimbres Valley in New Mexico, the artist has spent her career creating still life art that reflects the ancient artistry of the Mimbres people. Pedersen works from original artifacts when creating her still life art, traveling to museums or private collections and establishing a close rapport with the objects she will eventually incorporate into her work.

With that up-close exploration of the objects she depicts, Pedersen is able to create still life works that evoke a mystical mood, reflecting the spirituality of the Mimbres people. “It is tremendously moving to touch and handle their objects,” she says, “to feel the ancient surfaces of the pots, molded, incised, chipped and worn-to gaze in awe and wonder at the sophisticated designs created by fellow artists centuries ago.”

Plains Indian Strike-a-Light Purse by Turid Pedersen, oil on linen, 12 x 8.
Plains Indian Strike-a-Light Purse
by Turid Pedersen, oil on linen, 12 x 8.

Looking at the resulting still life artwork, I feel like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, discovering a whole world that I wasn’t aware even existed. Pedersen’s subjects offer viewers ways to understand the culture of this ancient people, from the objects associated with their wedding ceremonies to those used in mourning. I feel a tinge of sadness when I look at the paintings, knowing that they are just remnants of this culture, but I also experience profound respect for it–and an equally strong respect for the artist who has dedicated herself to recording the existence of this people through their objects and her art. If that’s not a “big” story, I don’t know what is!

If you want to tell your own artistic narratives–big and small–with the kind of power Pedersen brings to her work, explore the resources at the North Light Shop. You’ll find quality art instruction that allows every artist to discover how to tell his or her own stories, and the ability to open your eyes to the artwork and techniques you’ll need to get where you want to go. And right now the North Light Shop is offering a coupon code (DISCOVER40) to us for 40% off many of the resources in the shop. Enjoy!

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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

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