It was an eventful day for Diane Marsh of Estancia, as she was awarded a fellowship by the Jentel Artist Residency Program.
Jentel Arts is situated in a rural setting on a working cattle ranch in the Lower Piney Creek Valley, 20 miles southeast of Sheridan, Wyoming.
While Wyoming is a far cry from New Mexico, they both have beautiful sites to offer.
“I am going to enjoy experiencing the cities of Buffalo and Sheridan, Wyoming, as they are very historic western cities, so that will be nice,” Marsh said. “Then, just being in a quiet place with a couple of other artists and getting some work done will be a nice change of pace.”
Sheridan and Buffalo are 47 miles apart and straddle the Bighorn National Forest.
Marsh is among the award recipients focusing on their own creative projects at this working retreat for artists and writers. A panel of arts and literary professionals review samples of artwork and manuscripts before making final recommendations for residency awards.
“You compete with a lot of people, and they have a panel that selects the winner,” Marsh said. “I just feel very lucky that I was able to get it. And I’m going to be going to Wyoming in October for a month to work in their residence. And they’re provided with a house in the studio. It’s quite spectacular to be in the middle of a big ranch in Wyoming. So I’m looking forward to it.”
Marsh is a contemporary mystic, whose love of wilderness and the beauty of the American West continue to guide in her life and art.
“Oh my goodness, I love the American West,” Marsh said. “Being in the West again and getting out of Wyoming is certainly a different landscape than here, so it will be really nice to experience Wyoming and being sort of under the mountains.”
Throughout Marsh’s 45-year career, her artwork has focused on the creation of contemporary figurative paintings that explore ideas of the human condition. After her birth of her only child in 1997, the paintings grew and Marsh began to wonder, what will we leave of our Earth for future generations?
She then began incorporating words, text, images of children, nature, prayer and additional images of the ethereal realms of memory, dreams and spirit into her work. Marsh says her paintings by Ella offer the vision of a spiritual path, the importance of connection with the natural world, and the encouragement to face life’s sorrows and suffering, to ultimately awaken in our hearts compassion for all life.
“I have lived in New Mexico for a long time and in New York City for seven years,” Marsh said. “I am from the East Coast originally and I received a grant from the Russell artists-in-residence program when I was just 25 years old.”
Though Marsh enjoys the East Coast, she was itching to return to the open roads.
“After that grant, I was there for a year then went back to New York City for another few years and could not wait to return to the West, as the landscape and light here have impacted my work,” Marsh said.
While the East has its perks, the West is the best for Marsh.
“So it’s very important to me to be here and also to have that kind of expansive view that you get out in the West when you’re out and land just opens up,” Marsh said. “Living with wilderness, communing with wildlife nature, it is all crucial to my work as my work is very much about the environment, children, the Earth, and what will leave for future generations.”
The Jentel Artist Residency Program offers a beautiful place to work and achieve personal artistic goals. Residents enjoy interaction with peers and the extended community. For any artist in whatever media, protected time from the day-to-day necessities of living to examine and reflect upon work and the creative process is essential as a catalyst for artistic development. For more information, visit jentelarts.org.
“I do not know if there are as many opportunities for artists here, but everybody’s connected globally through the internet and Instagram and all kinds of ways, so you can live almost anywhere,” Marsh said. “I mean, there is just amazing artists all over as people are drawn to this state, because of the land and the mix of cultures is a beautiful thing here as well.”