Caitlin Magda Shepherd

"Art belongs not to the active life but to the contemplative life—not to the vita activa but to the vita contemplativa." Nicholas Wolterstorff

Month: November, 2014

High altitude White light with a bit of history


So here I am. Day 3. Based at Santa Fe Arts Institute; spacious, modern and well equipped to let thoughts roam, I have also ventured out into the physical space of Santa Fe. As part of my own orientation process (which I’ve observed I need to do immediately and frequently so I don’t feel like I’m a somewhat imprisoned artists in a studio on the outskirts of town!), I have looked into the history of the city and it’s notably unique building style.



Santa Fe  is the capital of the state of New Mexico. It is the fourth-largest city in the state and is the seat of Santa Fe County. It’s the oldest capital city in the United States and the oldest city in New Mexico. Santa Fe (meaning “holy faith” in Spanish) had a population of 69,204 in 2012.  It’s a mix of elongated main roads, and solitary back streets. The colour of this city is earthern. Everything is Brown, and sliding organic shapes.

Such earthy consistency occurs because in 1912 the city created the idea of imposing a unified building style – the Spanish Pueblo Revival look. The sources for this style came from the many defining features of local architecture: vigas (rough, exposed beams that extrude through supporting walls, and are thus visible outside as well as inside the building) and canales (rain spouts cut into short parapet walls around flat roofs), features borrowed from many old adobe homes and churches built many years before and found in the Pueblos, along with the earth-toned look (reproduced in stucco) of the old adobe exteriors.


After 1912 this style became official: all buildings were to be built using these elements. By 1930 there was a broadening to include the “Territorial”, a style of the pre-statehood period which included the addition of portales (large, covered porches) and white-painted window and door pediments (and also sometimes terra cotta tiles on sloped roofs, but with flat roofs still dominating). The city had become “different”. However, “in the rush to pueblofy” Santa Fe, the city lost a great deal of its architectural history and eclecticism. Among the architects most closely associated with this “new” style are T. Charles Gaastra and John Gaw Meem.

The city is flourishing with a tangible mixture of cultures. The streets are given Spanish names, and there is a strong Mexican culture. Today I visted a market and was inundated with traditional Mexican woven skirts and jackets, as well as reams of traditional mini chili’s as wintery decorations. Then there was the array of the more commonly seen Zuni and Navajo jewellery, consisting of a lot of Turquoise, Coral and liquid silver beading.


I particularly liked the Kachina’s, which are primitive dolls used by Native American people’s including  Hopi, Zuni, Tewa Village (on the Hopi Reservation), Acoma Pueblo, and Laguna Pueblo.



Kachinas are spirits or personifications of things in the real world. A kachina can represent anything in the natural world or cosmos, from a revered ancestor to an element, a location, a quality, a natural phenomenon, or a concept. There are more than 400 different kachinas in Hopi and Pueblo culture. I am tempted to get a couple to bring back with me, and they are also reminiscent of the Zuni fetishes, that I have loved since discovering them when I was Sixteen.


Historically, Santa Fe has seen enough battles. The city of Santa Fe was originally occupied by a number of Pueblo Indian villages with founding dates between 1050 to 1150. Don Juan de Oñate led the first effort to colonize the region in 1598, when the Conquistadors  headed to the American SouthWest, searching for Gold. They found none, but instead decided to convert the peoples of Santa Fe to Catholiscm. The mission saw the Indian peoples coerced to build churches throughout the city. However in 1680 the Pueblo Indians revolted and managed to drive 2,000 Spanish settlers out of the area, as well as killing 400 Spanish Soldiers. Independence was not to last, and Santa Fe was later to be reconquered by Don Diego de Vargas, Santa Fe remained Spain’s provincial seat until the outbreak of the Mexican War of Independence in 1810. In 1824 the city’s status as the capital of the Mexican territory of Santa Fe de Nuevo México was formalized in the1824 Constitution. Most recently, In 1912, New Mexico became the United States of America’s 47th state, with Santa Fe as its capital.

History aside, I’m particularly taken by the massive Blue skies, the height of the city and the mountains that wrap up and contain the Brown earthiness that seems to envelop and calm the senses effortlessly. The landscape around Santa Fe, is also the terrain of cowboys and endless arid, rocky vistas.



This is Studio Space




Tomorrow is promised to no one

Pina - cafe muller - c J Paulo Pimenta

A camera shoots in two directions. Forwards and backwards, merging both pictures so that the ‘back’ dissolves in the ‘front’, it allows the photographer at the very moment of shooting to be in front with the subjects, rather than separated from them. Through the viewfinder the viewer can step out of his shell to be ‘on the other side’ of the world, and thereby remember better, understand better, see better, hear better, and love more deeply.


And alas, despise more deeply, too. The evil eye after all, exists as well.


Taken from Wim Wenders’s Once.

During my time here in America, I will be using the lens, the act of looking as an editing process on the world around me, the stories of others and of my own selections, or stories. As part of my work at Santa Fe Arts Institutes, I am interested in continuing my journey with Sound documentation, but also with the integration of image to sound. I’m particularly interested in what Wender’s describes as ‘Once upon a time” or the capturing of a new moment, a new story, another vein and most importantly perhaps, merging the perception and perspective of both photographer and subject; be it landscape or portrait.

Americans Dream of the Road

San Francisco // Sanoma County // LA // Phoenix // Santa Fe

Monday – Wednesday

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San Francisco I


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Building the Seed Cathedral

Heatherwick’s Provocations


The Shape of a corner


I would like to start by sharing a quote from the French Symbolist poet Stephane Mallarme.

 “To name an object is to supress three – fourths of the enjoyment of the poem, which is composed of the pleasure of guessing little by little; to suggest, there is the dream”

 I woke up with you in my arms. A small drawing. The light was low and cold. If there was time to dream, perhaps it is now.

 Beneath the sidewalk the stars.

We walked through those streets long and hard. Glistening in late night murmurs, picking up papers walking to work; drinking coffee to fast. Too much, too hard.

It was like a prickling, pickling riddle.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.

She came to me, with stories of the dessert, the ocean, of sailing and long since lost dreams of childhood.

Nostalgia seeped through us, a yearning for the sea. For space, for time.

To listen.


We reached up. We wanted to excavate the sky.

I think that, I don’t know if it’s the time, the age we’re in now, my own age….there is very little Sanctuary. There is no safety, there is no home. None of these things do I have, now. And I am looking for it.

Where will we meet, when we lay the world to rest.

Is there a place.

Something that cnojors the small sun in the villi. Sun in the temple. Mandira.

All those folded Crimson wings.

“US led air strikes in northern Syria have failed to interrupt the advance of Islamic state fighters, closing in on a key city on the Turkish border, raising questions about the Western strategy for defeating the Jihadi movement.

 Almost two weeks after the pentagon extended its aerial campaign from Iraq to neirghbouring Syria, in an attempt to take on Isis militants in their desert strongholds, Kurdish fighters said the bombing campaign was having little impact in driving them back”

With you.

You in my arms.

Sanctuary. A listless whistle ran through the trees. What did you say?

To be still. As still as contentment. It is not possible. Seeds break up the sidewalk; pushing through small veins of ferocity.

Reach. Reach.

When the stillness comes, when the stillness comes; is it a better day?

There is a lot of news today. Yesterday, tomorrow, today. Tomorrow, yesterday, yesterday, today. This month, last month. Two weeks. Meet me tomorrow. Yesterday, tomorrow, today. Mett me at 5? Meet me at 6.

Yesterday, tomorrow, today.

What did you say?

Sanctuary. When the stillness comes. Is it a better day? Do you have a safe space. Something that is your own. Seeds break through the sidewalk; roots a thousand feet deep.

And then.

You are radiating some sort of sacred White light.

We danced hard. Eyes up to the sky. hips digging slowly into the ground. Softly.Softly.


The light breaks through the fine stained curtains.


Are we to be free?

Ursula Mayer