Right where I am.
In January of 2018, I was at the Edmond Fine Arts Institute on Monday afternoons doing studio time with Reian Williams. As I returned every week I started to notice the same woman sitting in the hallway. Eventually I found out she was the mother of a young girl that was working in the studio with me. One week I noticed the woman was sewing beads in the hallway.
"So you're an artist too, huh?"
She smiled and went on to share with me that she was an artist and more specifically into fashion. She told me about her Native American heritage and how her Father had passed on his beautiful bead-working skills to her. She shared with me about how she was a seamstress, and how she had made her oldest daughter's formal dress her Senior year of high school.
I pointed out how she was at the Edmond Fine Arts Institute to help her daughter with art, but how her art was equally as important. It was then we got onto the topic of how difficult it is to be an artist and a mom. You want to help your children with their dreams, but you aren't ready to give up on your own.
On the final week of studio time we had some synchronicity in our conversation. I was wanting to purchase a scarf for my friend's birthday and Alicia had the perfect peacock fabric at home and the sewing skills to help me out. I remember her laughing at how simple the job would be for her and how pleased she was to make a sale. I was so excited to get to pay a real fashion artist for a handmade gift for my dear friend. It was uncanny out it all worked out.
I met her at the mall to pick up the scarf, and we talked a little more about her investing time and energy into her own art, outside of her family. (She also has four children, including a set of twins.) She shared how she was changing up her work schedule, she is a make-up artist as well, to allow for more time to flesh out some of her own artistic ideas. We both left this short meet-up feeling encouraged and inspired to not give up on our own art.
I got to see Alicia again on my 40th birthday. I went on a bike ride and afterwards had an open house at Wholeshot Coffee to meet up with some my friends. I was so excited to have her stop by and we got more time to talk and just affirm each other. These little touch points I've had with Alicia, as few and far between as they are, have been so life giving. As moms the little time we do have to give relationally outside of our family is so minuscule that we both had this sort of cut-to-the-chase sort of intensity to our conversation. We quickly took what we needed from each other and kept moving forward. It's nice to have someone get this and not be offended by the lack of "common courtesy getting to know you chatter."
Since I saw her in August of 2018, Alicia has been VERY busy. She took part in an Emerging Designer's Program in which she got second place and participated in Phoenix Fashion Week. She created a brand, her first jewelry fashion line, and is currently working on her website, creating custom orders and has a vision to expand her line beyond accessories to include full outfits and cultural diversity. She had a successful launch party, which as our powerful synchronicity would allow, we got to host at Wholeshot Coffee. I am so happy it worked out to have it in our shop! Chef Gabriel Lewis catered the event and Wholeshot served drinks.
I asked Alicia to be our featured artist this month in Wholeshot Coffee, and we took photographs for promotion, but we decided, as good as her jewelry looked on display, it wasn't something we felt comfortable leaving up in the shop day-in and day-out - jewelry is just too tempting to slip into a purse or a bag or a pocket. So her daughter Eliana and I created some art that we could display along with some posters and photographs explaining her business.
I love all the thought that has gone into her very hands-on business. For instance her business name, Dotł'izhi (pronounced Dot-Cluh-Gee), is an Apache word that means turquoise. When she was advised to change her name because it was hard to pronounce, Alicia confidently said, "We had to learn how to pronounce Louis Vuitton and Coco Chanel. We can learn how to say Dotł'izhi too. The name stays."
I'm practicing my pronunciation because I know Alicia is just getting started. This connection to Alicia Velasquez has been a year and a half in the making and it has taught me that putting myself in artistic environments can connect me to people to not only collaborate with, but who also inspire me to continue making art a central heartbeat to my life because it matters.