Gabriella Banegas has been named the next Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Artist in. Residence, beginning her tenure in September.
Banegas, 24, was born and spent the first few years of her life in New Mexico, but currently lives in Schiedam, The Netherlands.
Although Banegas has called The Netherlands home since she was a child, she’s returned to Las Cruces each summer to spend time with family and finds the New Mexican landscape an important source of inspiration for her artwork.
Banegas graduated in 2016 from the Utrecht School of Fine Arts and can now officially call herself an artist and art educator, though the former has been her focus of late.
Banegas is a printmaker, working primarily with relief prints including woodcuts or linocuts and rolling happily with the subtle unpredictability of the medium.
“What I really love about this process is that you carve this image and you expect it to look a certain way, but once you print it, the mirrored image is filled with small surprises,” Banegas said.
Banegas’ artistic intuition sprang, as it often does, from the darkness.
“When I was a teenager, I would have nightmares every single night,” Banegas confides. “They would be so bad I would be afraid to go to sleep at night, so I decided I had to do something about it.”
Banegas turned first to books on dreams and the subconscious, then to the arts.
“I would read about the subconscious, and try to figure out the hidden meanings behind my dreams. I would turn them into drawings and eventually these nightmares suddenly started to get a lot less frightening. That’s when I discovered the power of art.
“I haven’t stopped creating since, and messages from my subconscious still play a very important role in my work to this day.”
The power of the subconscious, of dreams, instincts, and intuition, is heavily present in Banegas’ work.
“Have you ever had the feeling of just knowing something, like a gut feeling or maybe finding recognition in something completely unknown? I believe that this is an inner knowing, and one of the main inspirations behind my art is my belief that each new generation knows less than the generation before,” Banegas explains.
“I know that right now we have more knowledge, with technology and all, but I believe that older generations have more wisdom and a better understanding of these instincts or intuitions. I suppose you could say that my art is a sort of search for this inner wisdom.”
Though she draws much of her inspiration from her own rich, inner, life, Banegas also finds plenty of the same in the vistas of her hometown.
“Every year after spending the summer in New Mexico, I return to the Netherlands feeling very inspired. When I started looking for an Artist in Residence program to apply to. it felt logical to start searching in this area,” Banegas said.
“I have always made art inspired by the New Mexican landscape, but I’ve never created in the New Mexican landscape. When I came across the OMDP Artist in Residence program, it just felt like a perfect fit. So I applied for the spring Residency, but the spot went to Heidi Annalise who you might have read about in the May issue — an amazing artist that makes these stunning tiny landscape paintings.”
During her time as Artist in Residence, Banegas said she hopes to capture something of the immutable essence of the Organ Mountains.
“For me, the Organ Mountains are a very spiritual place,” Banegas said. “I would like to try to really capture the spirit of the Organ Mountains. One of the ways I’d like to do this is by combining my art practice and ideas of inner wisdom with landscape paintings and site-specific work.”
More than anything, Banegas said she’s deeply grateful to be invited to the work in the OMDP Artist in Residence program.
“It’s such an honor to be selected for the OMDP Artist in Residence-program. I feel like this will be a very important experience in my art career and it feels like the beginning of a new phase in my life as an artist.”