Athena Project* in collaboration with Denver Milk Market and Dairy Block have commissioned ten Artists for an art installation exhibit taking place March 8-31. The theme of the Installation is Women in Their Infinite Forms. Artists have been commissioned to design and build their interpretation of this theme using a table top lamp as the base of the artwork. We are pleased to celebrate the following artists who are currently working on this commission: Mayra Avina, Elsa Carenbauer, Jean-Marie Hewitt, Jerri Hobdy, Shanel Hughes, Jeanne Johns, Pamela Nocerino, Sofi Rami, Sarah Tenney and Michelle Joy Wecksler.
The public is invited to join these 10 artists in the Artist Opening Reception taking place on International Women’s Day, Wednesday, March 8, from 6:30-8pm at Morning Jones, a restaurant located inside of the Denver Milk Market.
All artwork is available for sale with proceeds supporting Athena Project as it celebrates Women’s History Month. To purchase artwork, please check back on March 10 when designs will be available online.
For the Women in their Infinite Forms exhibit, I present my interpretation of Ixchel, a Mayan Goddess that was revered as the goddess of the moon because of her feminine character. She represented the fertility linked to the earth, due to the fact that the cycles of the moon are those which determine the times of planting and harvest. She was also associated with the rains and the Maya rain god Chaac. Ixchel also is the protector of departed souls. This Goddess symbolizes different forms of women since the moon has different shapes and phases and Ixchel appears in different phases from young to old. As well as how women are able to create life, if they choose to. Moreover, women are sacred and bring both nurturing care and protection. What you’ll also find in this art piece are a nopal or cactus, representing the resilience all women have as it’s a resilient plant that blooms and bares fruit; an Alebrije dog, representing a mythical animal that accompanies those that have departed; a marigold that is an integral flower during the Día de los Muertos ceremonies, believed to create a path for ancestors to visit their loved ones on alters; and a rabbit and snake that are associated with Ixchel.
Mayra Avina is a Chicana watercolor artist in Denver, CO. She paints a window into her Indigenous and Mexican roots and what brings joy. She is a self-taught watercolor artist and enjoys painting as a way to connect with her ancestors and as a self-care practice. Mayra also paints moments of peace, ceremony, and elation. Her goal is for her art to spark joy within the viewer.
With this project, I want to highlight the often overlooked contributions of women in the craft field and how their work serves as a powerful vessel for storytelling. By making a chandelier out of dumplings, I hope to shed light on the story behind this culinary art. The process of making dumplings is a communal event. In my family, the women gather together to fold dumplings and share news, stories, folk tales, and plans for the future. In each fold, there is a connection to generations of careful techniques, flavors and regional specialties.The chandelier, typically associated with elegance and opulence, is juxtaposed with an earthly, humble craft. By transforming a conventional lamp into a culinary masterpiece, this project invites viewers to enjoy the story woven into each dumpling, celebrating the craftsmanship and cultural richness women contribute to the art of storytelling through their culinary creations.
No Bones Left (Elsa Carenbauer) is a multi-media artist in Denver, CO. Her background in communication design is an important part of her self-expression. Ironically, the name No Bones Left is coined from a lost-in-translation moment from her Chinese mother. Her work is often light hearted and easy going, incorporating themes of Asian culture, humor, and experimentation from the perspective of a bi-racial Asian American.
This glorious inspiration beckoned on her own from all the exquisite Drag Queens who are a magnetic presence within Women In Their Infinite Forms. They resonate fiery passion with boundless whimsy and excitement on a grand scale all while carrying that which they have and have had to experience, just to be who they are. Every element of their journey can be found deeply held inside their emotive eyes.
Jean-Marie is a woman in the arts in rich, colorful concepts. Her Visual Arts span decades in Interior Design which includes Abstract Canvas, Specialty Surfaces, Cement Objects, Custom Soft Furnishings, Theatrical Sets, Fashion Design, Textile Arts, Pastry Arts, Jazz Arts and Patinas to infinity and beyond. Grata is the motto that she absorbs.
Using uniquely textured and sustainably derived materials to create a cohesive single table lamp design, the intent is to highlight the marrying of disparate materials, representing the unique characteristics that compose a woman’s identity. The creation of cohesion among the differing attributes speaks to a broader effort to leverage one’s uniqueness to create new value. The use of environmentally-friendly materials in this design, even at a small scale, also illustrates how a collection of choices can amount to a greater positive impact.
Jerri Hobdy, a Native Texan, founded MENO in Denver, CO in 2018 as a realized concept born out of a passion to steward the decorative furniture and lighting industry into the future. MENO is a national brand actively engaged in local sustainability, supporting the surrounding community through reinvestment projects, and paving pathways for new, equitable business in the creative industries. MENO’s focus is moving the needle in sustainability within the built environment through old and new furnishings with intention to uphold waste reduction, the use of climate-friendly materials and innovative solutions to lower the carbon footprint of furniture logistics as it’s main areas of impact. Jerri is a Furniture and Lighting Designer, established in the industry as s source for unique designs. Published and collaborating over the past decade with renown North American brands and developers across retail and hospitality, she aspires to grow MENO into a industry-leading guidepost for sustainability through the products and spaces touched by the MENO concept.
Through dark times, many of us have learned what is really inside of us and how bright we really shine. This lamp represents finding self in the darkest of moments, in the darkest of corners. This lamp represents shining against all odds. This lamp represents what many women+ have learned in this lifetime: that we shine no matter what.
Shanel Hughes is a Denver creative. She is a crafter and comedian who has perfomed in several states and various venues all across Colorado, including Comedy Works, The MCA, The Comedy Fort and the Denver Improv. Her comedy style can be described as an evening with your funny, and blunt, best friend. Her warmth and contagious energy fills each room she enters. She loves glitter, bling, and all things shiny and cute. To the stage, she brings years of improv, acting and crafting skills. Shanel has instructed several Laugh Your Craft Off Events at the Museum of Contemporary Art and she currently has art pieces for sale in Denver. You can find all of her upcoming shows at shanelhughes.com and follow her artwork on @shanelhughescrafts.
This piece was inspired by the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on young women and their ability to heal through therapy. For many women and girls, the disruption and stress of the pandemic exacerbated previously well-hidden mental health issues. The pandemic, racial inequities and the political divide in our country weighed especially heavily on teens. Rates of mental health challenges have soared, so much so that the American Academy of Pediatrics recently declared a “National State of Emergency in Children’s Mental Health.” In this piece, the purple cone flower is used to represent young women’s capacity for growth and healing. The lamp illuminates the soil and the dark places where growth emanates from, dark places that must be explored. The blossom sprouting from the soil shows the growth that is possible and life beyond pain, depression and anxiety. With such growth, women naturally become support systems for others, represented by the glowing cone and insects. Fabric, especially knit and crocheted yarns, were used because of the cozy and comforting feeling of the textiles.
Jeanne Johns has been the bookkeeper for Athena Project for the last 5 years. Jeanne grew up in Milwaukee where her creativity was sparked by her father who could build almost anything he imagined. Her perspective has been shaped by her childhood spent outdoors in the forests, fields and lakeshores of Wisconsin. Although her career has mostly been managing environmental and telecommunications projects, she makes space to be creative in her “spare time”. She loves working with fabrics and textiles and enjoys designing and sewing costumes. Her love of costume led her to become a designer in the 2019 Paper Fashion Show (Denver).
What kinds of “chains” do you have to break through (or use) to thrive as your best self? This piece incorporates community members’ answers to this question, and highlights the welded power of Women in Their Infinite Forms breaking free together.
Pamela Nocerino is a writer who once helped build a giant troll in the Rocky Mountains. She enjoyed a brief career on stage in Denver until she needed health insurance and became a dedicated middle school teacher for over 20 years. She began submitting work during the pandemic lockdown and now has published works of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, short plays, songs, and essays.
As a woman, I have embarked on a transformative journey to understand the profound connection between our inner rhythms and the natural world. Inspired by the moon’s phases and the hormonal cycles that shape us, I present this art deco lampshade as a celebration of the sacred feminine and its inherent power. Within its intricate design, you’ll find a dance of celestial bodies reflecting the ebb and flow of our being. Each luminous curve and crescent whispers of a woman’s ever-shifting landscape – from the passionate fire of ovulation to the introspective wisdom of the new moon. This is more than just a lampshade; it’s a call to reconnect with our cyclical nature. I aspire to ignite conversations about the radical act of self-love that comes from synchronizing our lives with these intrinsic rhythms. By honoring the woman in her many forms, we embrace the empowerment that lies within – a force as undeniable and beautiful as the moon’s guiding light.
Sofi Rami is a Colombian-American artist living in Colorado. She has practiced studio art since 2015 and public art since 2019. Sofi has her BFA in digital art and design. She has painted murals across multiple states. Sofi is influenced by graffuturism, 70s sci-fi illustration, art nouveau, and surrealism. Observing nature and human behavior through her domestic and international travels also informs her work. Her immigrant upbringing has cemented a strong work ethic and a love for color and flourish.
Like a bird with its flight feathers cut, women are losing freedoms we thought were there for good. My concept was inspired by desire for abortion access, equal pay/maternity leave, and women being recognized in their fields. This piece consists of graphite drawing and watercolor paint on translucent paper, in two layers. The upper layer goes over the top of the lamp like an mitten and depicts two birds in flight, one with it’s flight feathers cut, one with them intact. The lower layer circles the base of the lamp and shows a hand gripping the wrist of an another hand gripping scissors, a third holding feathers and fourth hand pointing toward the flight feathers that have grown back. The light will bring focus and an ethereal feel to the birds and the hands. By staying the hand with the scissors, flight feathers can grow back. Similarly, by stopping those who seek to limit women, our freedom will return.
Sarah Tenney is a painter from Denver, CO. Her dreamy works of people and animals deals with existential concerns through the lens of motherhood. Sarah received her BFA from MSUD and has been a professional artist for 16 years. She has shown in galleries, art festivals, and alternative spaces across Colorado, and has dozens of collectors in multiple countries. She lives in a hundred year old house with her witty husband, 2 wild and wonderful kids, and a pair of the best cats ever.
When I first saw the theme “Women In Their Infinite Forms,” my knee-jerk reaction was to immediately think of physical forms. I realized that my response was a culturally-driven response. It was something I was trained to do from the time I was small – to think about shape and physical form in relation to being a woman. I encouraged myself to move beyond this ingrained response to consider what rises above physical form? Not only what rises above form, but what rises above time, space and form when it comes to women? What do we as women hold in common? The words that began to flow through me were heart, courage, bravery, passion, fire, supporting, holding, creativity, energy. These qualities are expressed by women living and women past and will continue to be exhibited by women of the future – in all of our infinite forms. At times we are on fire – ready to take a stand, demonstrate, share our passion, ignite possibilities. Other times we are focused inward – tending to our inner flame, stoking our creative embers. At times we hold space for others, for community, for connection and at times we create space for ourselves, for solitude and for listening to the quiet whispers that only come when we slow down. We are passionate, brave, creative and loving beings who show up in infinite ways in this world. The heart, representing courage, bravery, love, and compassion – representing us – is positioned above all else in the sculpture. We will not be contained.
Michelle Joy Wecksler is a self-taught, intuitive abstract artist living and working in Denver, Colorado. She was born in Queens, NY and grew up in Connecticut. Michelle’s art is about presence, curiosity and authenticity in each moment. Art for Michelle is the permission to play and express freely. As an intuitive artist Michelle lets her intuition guide her creative process – listening deeply to her inner knowing and creative impulses. Art is how Michelle breathes and connects; a way of honoring experience and sharing it with others.