ELKO -- A group of distinctive Western women artists designed and crafted a single, unique piece of jewelry for this year’s Wild Women Artists show “Many Moons.” The opening reception is 5-8 p.m. Thursday at the Duncan Little Creek Gallery in Elko.
The Wild Women Artists reside throughout northeastern Nevada and as far west as northeastern California, according to their website. As a diverse group of women living in varied and isolated landscapes, they spend many solitary months working as individual artists in a variety of media. However, twice a year, they unite.
“Twice a year we come together to do shows,” said glass bead-making artist Kristen Frantzen Orr, who resides in Spring Creek.
The fall show is held in Reno, and the Elko winter show occurs during the week of Cowboy Poetry, she said.
For this year’s group project, each artist was given a three-quarter-inch to one-inch sterling silver rectangle to create a tangible piece of art interpreted from the phrase “many moons.” The finished frames will be strung together as a necklace.
This one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry will be available to purchase at the show by silent auction until 6 p.m. Jan. 30 at the DLC, Orr said. Bids may also be placed online through the group’s website.
The themes reflected in the artists’ work are as diverse as the women themselves.
“If you get something from us, it has our passions, our feelings,” Orr said about the women’s artwork.
Orr said for this year’s chosen topic she was inspired by the October super moon. She said she was reminded of an old English nursery rhyme: “I see the moon/And the moon sees me/And the moon sees the ones/that I cannot see …”
For Orr, the moon represents the continuous connection to loved ones who are no longer living.
“The moon still sees that missing person,” she said.
Gail Rappa, metal and jewelry artist, has been a member of the Wild Women Artists for more than a decade. Rappa said the group needed a common theme for this year’s project. She was struck by the consistent cycling of the phases of the moon.
“There’s always a constant,” she said.
Rappa and Orr often combine their talents to create distinct pieces of jewelry. Orr’s swirl of colorful glass beads coexist with Rappa’s intricate metal and stone work. The result is a blending of two styles that “complement without overpowering” Rappa said.
“We don’t compete against one another,” Rappa said about the Wild Women.
It is a group wholly dedicated to supporting each other through the challenges women artists confront in rural Nevada. Rappa, who resides in the community of Tuscarora, said the group provided her with “amazing mentors” as she learned to balance motherhood and her career as an artist.
“It’s been a forum, a space to grow. There’s constant support,” she said.
Metal sculpture artist Susan Glaser Church has been involved with the Wild Women Artists since 1998. She said she also enjoys the encouragement she receives from the group.
Church creates sculptures utilizing old machinery, pitchforks, shovels and scrap metal she unearths on her family-owned ranch in northeastern Nevada. A skilled welder and blacksmith, Church forges metal into functional pieces such as lamps, candelabra and bookends. Her sculptures of native wildlife and the natural world often evoke a sense of playfulness and amusement.
However, sculptures of sagebrush and sage-grouse are also profound depictions of life in the West.
“Right now they are a focus in my work,” Church said. “... Being in a rural area inspires me. It’s neat to tie in my heritage of ranching.”
For the “Many Moons” piece, Church said she was influenced by everyday life on the ranch. Agriculture, livestock and wildlife are dependent upon the constantly changing seasons, she said, much like the cyclic waxing and waning of the moon.
Along with Orr, Rappa and Church, six other artists will present at the Wild Women show: Marti Bein, painting; Kathleen Durham, storyteller; Barbara Glynn Prodaniuk, ceramics/pottery; Trish Reynolds, photography; Sidne Teske, painting/pastels; Katherine Case, printmaking.
Artwork will be displayed and available for purchase 4-8 p.m. Thursday at the Duncan LittleCreek Gallery, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 30. Story hour with Durham is 11 a.m. Jan. 30.
For information about the Wild Women Artists, visit wildwomenartists.com.