by Kristin Kurens
Emily Gonzales is this issue’s cover artist, graciously granting me permission to share one of her Frida Kahlo pieces. After viewing the selections she sent, I was compelled to share them all.
I’ve known Emily for a few years—we worked together a few years ago. What I’ve always admired about Emily is her dedication to her art. She’d often tell me she’d been up all night working on or finishing another piece. Emily also has a deep intuition and connection to nature and the energy of the earth. Her work is intricate, delicate, detailed.
Emily lives in Montana now and is gearing up for a show to exhibit her Frida artwork. “Frida. What’s not to love about her? She’s a phenomenal woman—the perfect illustration of strength, perseverance, and love,” Emily tells me via email.
“She loved Diego [Rivera] something fierce, even if it killed her. As an artist, she has always been inspiring to me. Her work is so raw, full of emotions; she displays honesty. You know what mood she was in or how she was feeling. As a woman, she is beautiful. She owned her own style, which now is known throughout the world.”
Emily is working hard to establish herself as an artist—work that’s starting to pay off with upcoming shows in Montana.
“I have been an artist from the beginning. It’s always been my dream/goal to just be an artist. I have manic creative episodes. Creativity flows like lightning through me, and I can go on very little sleep. It's hard for me to break these because I am in a very altered state.”
That creativity fuels her, “Being an introvert, I express myself through my work. This is what refills my cup.”
She works in a variety of mediums, she says. “I love to try new ones and challenge myself. Although . . . I’ll always have a love affair with chalk pastel. I like to be involved with my work, get messy, and chalk pastel just gets me.
“My new adventure is stencil work, so I can go out and spray paint . . . Frida, of course. I'll paint the world with Frida.”
There’s a luscious feminine energy here, by way of Mother Earth, Frida Kahlo, and, of course, Emily. I ask her to expand on her previous mention of totems to me. She sees, feels, and hears spirits; she has from a very young age.
“An animal or spirit may come to you by dream, vision, or literally cross your path. You can also journey to find your spirit/animal totem. They are energies to work with—some stay with you forever and others are only temporary, until you fulfill a part of your destiny or overcome a challenge.”
Those energies nourish her work.
“The idea to create shamanic art, specializing in totem animals and spirits came about naturally,” she says. “It’s a way to honor their spirit and have them with you in a physical form.”
She also crafts custom pieces for clients. “Once a client tells me their spirit animal, I spend time working with that energy—it’s often present throughout the entire creation of the work, giving input on the piece, colors, style. It's extremely fulfilling work. I feel like I am utilizing both my creative gift as well as my ability to work with energies.”
Working in that realm, with spirit and totem energy, often leaves Emily feeling altered. “Sometimes I feel like I have one foot in this world and the other in the spirit realm. I can easily see the unseen. I can become altered with the drop of a hat.”
And Emily has some advice on dealing with the established patriarchy and embracing feminine energy: “The best feminine energy to tap into is mama earth. I used to be a part of a women’s drum circle in Albuquerque—we would drum to the earth and moon. It was incredible. With such political turmoil and patriarchy, tapping into femininity would do us all some good.”
Look for Emily’s artwork at the Townshend’s Bozeman Teahouse in Montana in 2018. Follow Emily Gonzales on Instagram.
All images by Emily Gonzales, courtesy of the artist.
Kristin Kurens is a writer, editor, and artist. She thrives on words, music, art, and aiding the verbally challenged. In her free time she writes fiction, paints, travels—always in pursuit of the authentic and strange.