#CommunityDialogue – A Sit Down With A Special Kind of Artist – Isabel Hees


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Written by Carlos Contreras

“For ten years, I was a flamenco dancer. I have often asked myself why a strikingly blonde, Southern Californian-Santa Fe transplant with zero interest in dance — considering my dad’s affinity for a tomboy — was so exigently drawn to flamenco,” writes Hees. Yes, I said writes – the lines you read are lifted from a recent essay about her life and journey, for other means. She shared it with me, for means of context, when talking about the content of the interview for an upcoming arts how at Tractor Brewing Wellspark in March.

Hees and I trade jokes and beers at a taproom table and talk about life and the way that it relates to art – and not so. It’s a Friday, it’s been a long week, and we are both talking about how we aren’t quite sure what we are doing in life, and how it is going to pan out, but we know passionately that it really is right where we are supposed to be.

Hees has had quite the journey – circular in some ways, to the point of where she is – printmaking, and art making, in rhythm and conversation, with a recent past time, Flamenco.

Hees’ life process, now informs her visual art making process. “Although my dancing days are behind me, flamenco slowly but surely led me back to my first love: visual arts. Currently, I am pursuing a project that is a byproduct of my education in flamenco dance, culture, history and rhythm. Thus far, it has been a journey in finding a way to capture flamenco movement in its truest essence and express it in two-dimensional images. This project is called Huellas: Impressions Through Movement,” She said. Huellas, is an impressive collection of energy, passion, collaboration, and truly a one of a kind idea. The thought of it dancing around, on and off the walls of galleries, and ideally shuffling its collective feet into the homes of collectors, is one that excites Hees to talk and dream about.

About the process, I asked her to explain how it came to be and just the basics of what it is that she does.

“Huellas (footprints) was born in 2011 while I spent the year in Sevilla studying both fine art printmaking and flamenco. In my studies, I noticed that I was carving into wooden surfaces in my morning printmaking class and stomping on wooden floors in my evening flamenco classes. Noticing the parallel between these two very distinct art forms, I started to develop a method to record and print flamenco footwork,” explained the 20 something artist.

She may be young, but her youth lends to an energy that reads as determined and promising. “Art-making is a landscape of continual process but often our focus is on the final outcome. The destination, not the path. I try to create prints that are aesthetically pleasing, but the work itself is about the process,” she explained to me. Explanations about work, from artists like Isabel, speak to the care that some artists take with their work. Take a second, consider the fact that this artist is living right here in our city – creating one-of-a-kind work from an art form that is respected in every corner of the world, but again is thriving right here in Albuquerque.

Albuquerque is a special place, a community destined to survive, solely because of the strength of its parts; like the work of Hees, many elements must work together toward the end result of a beautiful project – Albuquerque is beginning to show hope and promise of collaborative energy changing the nature and course of things.

On creating beautiful things, with a team instead of on her own, Hees, spoke to the special energy that collaborative work brings her personally. She said, “Huellas has allowed me to relinquish control of what appears on my canvas. It’s as if I have a paintbrush with a mind of its own. One that guides my hand, making strokes that I am there simply to support. This collaboration is an essential source of my motivation as an artist. The efforts of the community are far more intriguing to me than the goings-on of one singular brain.”

Cheers to that. And, Cheers to Isabel – who aspires to attend a graduate school that furthers her abilities to continue to explore the worlds bridged by visual and physical art – by flamenco and printmaking – and of course between our dreams and reality. We asked her to talk about her future plans in regards to what she is making and what she plans on making.

She said, “Although my fascination with dance, movement and inherent forms of human expression started with my love for flamenco; I intend to widen my scope of interest by exploring other forms of expressive movement as well as other means, materials and surfaces on which to record them.” Hees’ hopes to be given a chance to join a community of art makers to further her capacity – we only hope if that opportunity takes her away from the Duke City, we find her or her art back here one day. We can’t help but encourage a soul that says, “I would relish the opportunity to continue making my work with the greater support of people who have the highest regard for human expression.” Yeah we think just about everyone would relish in that opportunity – and we sure do hope you get that opportunity – Isabel. Go get em!

See you at Isabel’s Art Opening – March 9th at Tractor Brewing Wellspark.