Magical Escapes with Petecia Lefawnhawk

Petecia LeFawnhawk is a visual artist and creative director, known all across the globe for her captivating and surreal works and sculptures. We sat down with Petecia to discuss her works, her creative process and life.

We want to dive into your work as a multimedia artist. Your works have captivated the globe for years now. Can you take us back to the beginning and tell us where it all started? And what significant moments have there been that made you the artist that you are today?

“I’m humbled, thank you. If I go all the way back, significant moments would start when I was 10 and moved to the remote desert in Arizona with my mom and two younger siblings. I spent those hot solitary days exploring and finding ways to entertain myself in my newfound foreign surroundings. Making faerie houses and stone cities, creating pigments,.. and mixing faux medicinal concoctions out of plants for the animals.Listening to the birds and crickets, the wind through the creosote, watching the monsoons roll in from the distance and the changing light over the vast landscapes. The desert was my classroom, playground, escape, and chapel all in one. I left the desert for California when I was 18 to pursue my dream of becoming a fashion designer. This path led me to experiments with professions as an artist, musician, customer, set designer, graphic designer and creative director... all in the name of survival in the city with the only tools I had — my creativity, curiosity and courage. In 2012 I returned to Arizona with my husband, Mark Maggiori. We wanted to leave the city to minimize expenses and maximize our focus on art creation. He discovered his path to be a great western painter pretty quickly. On the other hand... my path was a bit more winding. I tinkered in my studio and took long hikes in the desert. I’d say I was in complete surrender of the seeking. Something I hadn’t had the freedom to do since I was a child. I had set up stations in my studio, a music recording area, a sculpture table, a jewellery-making bench, a drawing table... I popped to one and then over to the other like a mad scientist. And when my efforts were for not, I would find myself back in the desert.There’s a dry lake outside of where we were living and I’d go there to film, take photos, experiment artistically, and just be alone in thought in the quiet and serene vastness. I think this really set me on my path of discovering my voice as an artist. I was and still am experimenting in real-time... refining my vision and my understanding of what it is my soul is connecting with or is trying to express.”

In your works, you create scenes that seem to take place in our world but not entirely; there’s always something that looks out of place that makes the viewer leave reality for a brief moment. This surreal quality to your works —what does it mean to you? What is the story you want to tell?

“Yes, I do love playing with perception and how we view reality. I love creating a sense of awe and mystique. To create a pause in the mundanity, a moment to remember the magic in everyday existence. To make the intangible, tangible. To make visual how we might remember a dream or feel details in a memory. I took cues from the greats. Brancusi for instance said he was trying to eliminate the unnecessary in the form to reveal its hidden truths. I felt I too was approaching minimalism for the same reasons. To try and get to the essence of things. To understand the design in nature and its subtle profound grace and links that bind us all. I think I’m also trying to encapsulate spirit in some way — like a butterfly cupped in the hands — to give form to the vital life force and subtle profound grace, to try and communicate its silent power and infinite wisdom. I can’t help but also look to my art as a visual narrative of my quest for self-discovery. It’s how I feel I am able to best express and share my findings. It’s an attempt to illustrate the theories of the unknowable and the desire to feel connected meaningfully to one self and to what is.”

You often use the desert as a backdrop. What does the desert mean to you? And does it have anything to do with where you grew up? What draws you to the desert ultimately?

“The desert is like my blank canvas. There is a quote that I love: “if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you” by Nietzsche. The desert is a living abyss, ripe with emptiness to let your spirit lose itself to find itself again, in a divine cycle with no end, and to be comforted in insignificance in the magnitude of totality and the vastness of this space. One with all is felt easily in the desert. You and this landscape, stripped completely bare. And from this place mystery and creation can be brought forth in a perfect collaboration. A blossoming of life’s longing to live itself.”

Your works showcase almost mythical sculptures and architectural shapes, creating what many have called ‘desert magic’. What do these shapes and statues mean to you personally?

“I’m still trying to understand this myself. My interpretations are that they are monuments, portals, doorways, altars, empires, temples, windows, thresholds, totems and keys. And the symbology that is held within — the manifestations and markers that punctuate the human journey, rites of passage, moments of growth and challenge, attempts to transcend mortality and fragility. Platonic shapes to bring form to the formless and give attempt to give shape to what words cannot.”

We want to dive into your creative process. How do you start your work? Do you always know what you want to create? Do you sketch out the concept? How do you start? And what does a typical work day look like?

“I create and conceptualize by instinct. An impulse to go into the desert and see what I create.Sometimes I sketch compositions or create based on a costume. I listen to music in headphones and see what narratives form from the music. I work in many mediums so I oscillate between them and the primary medium of the moment determines the process. I constantly read poetry and philosophy hoping that a string of words or Ideas may spark a vision. I sketch and design and love to study books on photography, architecture and design. I love finding artists of the past that I feel some connection to and study their lives and approach to living and creation and see if it might inform how I might bring it into my work.”

Looking back at your past works, how would you say you’ve evolved as an artist? Were there periods when you saw things differently? And what are the biggest lessons you’ve learned?

“I hope I’m always evolving. But I definitely feelI’ve found my voice and it feels so very much me. I’m always challenging myself to master my crafts and to continually challenge myself with new tools and technologies through interesting concepts and collaborations. I think there was a time that I didn’t believe in myself as an artist.
I didn’t feel good about calling myself an artist until I could make a living as one. I know now that I am one... monetized or not. My purpose is to express the subtleties and intangible from my unique perspective, to get out of my own way to let the creativity flow and to master my crafts to communicate clearly and potently the visions that are called to be in the world.”

The first thing you do in the morning is...
..kiss my daughter and my husband.

Travel back or forward in time and to what year?
..back in time, to the Golden Age.

Last message you sent on your phone...
”And you mine! Now off we go to roll up our sleeves and make magic!”

Signature dish everyone knows you for...
..Pico de Gallo

A quote or wisdom you live by...
..know thyself

The happiest moment of your life...
..the birth of my daughter

A valuable lesson you’ve learned recently... can’t heal the body without together healing the mind.

The most surreal thing that has happened to you...
..learning how to die on an Ayahuasca journey.

Person (dead or alive) you’d like to have a conversation with...
..Joseph Campbell

The key to happiness...
..minimize desires.

No items found.

if you liked this editorial, we recommend continue reading below: