Friday, February 29, 2008

Native Artists Making a Difference, Portland State University Art Show

“Native Artists Making a Difference”

Hosted By UISHE
Includes Live Art and Exhibits
Thursday March 6th, 2008


Bunky Echo-Hawk - Pawnee/Yakama

Natalie Ball - Modoc/Klamath

Az Carmen – Chickasaw

Toma Villa - Yakama

For more Information:
Nicole Charley
710 SW Jackson St
Portland OR 97201

Monday, February 25, 2008

Teach Your Children To Be Afraid

Good Morning,
You may not know this about me but I am a grandmother of 16 grandchildren. They are all unique and fun to be with and I love them with all of my heart. Both my husband and I pray about their safety and their well being on a daily basis. This week something happened that allowed me to understand more fully the importance of prayer. Because of this I thought I would tell you what happened with a chance email and how it may have protected the lives of a family living in Bolivia.

Earlier in the week, a person I have known for several years, but who seldom sends me emails, sent me an email with an attachment that included pictures of a highway in Bolivia built on the side of an enormously tall mountain range. The series of pictures showed a dirt road that was so narrow that two small trucks would have difficulty passing one another without one of the trucks falling into the 1,000 foot canyon below. There were about 10 picturesque images of the mountain range and the tunnels that were carved out of the mountains. They were beautiful and terrifying all at the same time. The pictures showed in detail the extremely treacherous nature of the highway. The one that made me sickest was the one with small buses filled with people being crowded to the edge of the abyss by trucks loaded with goods. It was scarey to look at on the computer and I decided to never again travel across any Oregon coastal bridges without closing my eyes. I forwarded the email to my daughter, as a curiosity, and promptly pushed the scarey images to the back of my mind.

Later in the day, my daughter, sent me an email telling me that she had forwarded the email to a friend of hers who is teaching in Bolivia and made the comment in the subject line, 'Your Commute to Work'. The comment in the subject line caught the attention of her friend and she opened it immediately. It appears that the friends in Bolivia had actually been planning a trip along the same highway for the next week! They had planned a weekend adventure on the basis of viewing one picture of the road and thought how fun it would be for them to travel over one of the world's most narrow and steep highways. When they viewed the attached email pictures they realized that they might be getting invovled with an adventure that could potentially be life threatening. They began to ask questions of friends and acquantainces about the road and found out that not only is it extremely dangerous but the highway is also frequented by bandits! They immediately decided to cancel their planned highway adventure and asked my daughter to forward thanks to the woman who originally sent the email.

The lessons I have learned from this experience are two fold. The first is that God does work in mysterious ways and the second is that prayers are often answered quickly and in the most miraculous ways. I am so grateful for this.

As an addendum, I relearned the importance of teaching your children to be violently afraid of heights, snakes, and things that go bump in the night!

Take care,

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Az Carmen featured as ONABEN's Indianpreneur for January

Painting: Man with Eagle, acryllic on canvas, 2007. 

(This article was originally published on the ONABEN website, January 2008.  For more information on Indianprenuership, see

Indianpreneur of January! 
Dr. Az Carmen

The Indianprenuer for January is Dr. Az Carmen, an artist who paints and draws on canvas, leather, and things that have been left around the house for "too long."  Her three-dimensional work includes dolls made from either cornhusks or cloth, including a new series called "Boarding School Dolls," and rawhide masks her Grandma taught her to make.  In the future she would like to explore painting murals.  In the following interview, Az describes the unique challenges of selling Native American artwork and her overnight transformation into a painter ten years ago.
Dr. Carmen has always been creative, but never took on art as a business full-time until two years ago when she finished her doctorate.

What inspired going out on a limb and starting your own business?

Really, I don't think of myself as a business person but as an artist who sells her work.  I earned a doctorate and found along the way that there was something missing; even though I was successful in my professional life, I always wanted to try and see if I could make a living through selling my art.  I have found it is tough to be an artist without a supportive spouse.  I really identify with the joke that goes: What does an artist need?  A husband with a good paying job!  I am blessed to have a wonderfully supportive man in my life who understands how important what I am doing is to me.

What's most challenging for you as a business owner?

The most challenging part of business for me is that to get into really good shows you are asked for a bio and resume that clearly indicates your work has been legitimized as acceptable by "fine art" galleries.  I find this to be really problematic and in discussion with other Indian artists find that they too see this as a problem as well.  Sometimes our work verges on what some galleries would identify as craft or even work by "outsiders".  Funny, I never felt like an outsider until I was told I was one.  Now I work with Indian-friendly galleries and sell at shows where the expectation is to view and perhaps buy legitimate Native American art work.

What are your plans for the future?  How would you like to grow?

My plans for the future are to continue to create more work and see who I am becoming as an artist.  I would like to sell at the open show for Indian Arts and Crafts Association, of which I am a member, and get into several more galleries . . . I would like to have my own work accepted and appreciated as art by an indigenous person.

What's special about your business?

My business is based on the gift of a talent that I received when I was very ill and was told by the doctor not to expect to recover my full health and energy.  On one very bad day I woke up and thought, "I can draw."  The next day I woke up and thought, "I can paint."  Oddly enough, I had never painted before and my claim to being able to draw anything was limited to five sided stars and strangely articulated stick figures!  As a result, I thank God everyday for my abilities and know that because they are a gift I have to approach the artwork in a reverent manner.  The "specialness" about my business is that everything I create is blessed by a miracle.

I also paint upside down and with two hands!  No kidding!