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Local artist wins residency fellowship at Santa Fe Art Institute

Del Curfman, a painter, won the 2015 Design Fellowship.

Del Curfman, a painter, won the 2015 Design Fellowship.

Holly Grimm grew up in Shiprock on the Navajo reservation, a passion for drawing already coursing through her veins.

The Stanford University graduate recently won a seven-week residency fellowship to the Santa Fe Art Institute, along with jeweler Wayne Nez Gaussoin. Culled from about 30 applicants, the fellowships came from the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, the umbrella organization of the Santa Fe Indian Market.

SWAIA awarded painter Del Curfman the 2015 Design Fellowship, placing his image of a black crow on this year’s Indian Market merchandise. For the first time ever, two fellows came from a writer and a filmmaker: Terese Marie Mailhot and Razelle Benally. Glass artist Daniel Friday won first runner-up recognition in the Discovery category. Painter/photographer Chamisa Edd-Belin and painter/printmaker Olathe Antonio were the Youth Fellowship winners.

Painter Holly Grimm is among the residency fellowship winners picked this year by the Southwest Association for Indian Arts.

Painter Holly Grimm is among the residency fellowship winners picked this year by the Southwest Association for Indian Arts.

“It’s great to see how competitive it’s become and the caliber of artists that were selected,” SWAIA chief operating officer Dallin Maybee said. “It’s exciting to see the narratives and mediums our fellowship applicants are exploring and SWAIA is happy to assist them in their growth.”

An abstract painter, Grimm lived in Albuquerque from 1997 to 2002, winning a 2014 best emerging artist designation from the Harwood Arts Center.

Grimm remembers attending Indian Market annually with her family as a young girl. This will mark her first time selling from her own booth on the Plaza. This year’s Indian Market will be held Aug. 22-23.

Influenced by Abstract Expressionism, particularly the work of Helen Frankenthaler, Chinese painting and Navajo rug designs, Grimm double majored in studio art and engineering.

“I liked both, but I worried I might not be able to support myself with my art,” she said. “I worked for a while as a software developer.”

In her paintings, Grimm creates abstraction from nature. While she used to rely on her own photographs, today she prefers the plein-air approach.

“I get what I believe is a better color and energy from being there,” she said. “I’m out in the vital energy of the Earth, which they call ‘chi’ in Chinese painting. In Navajo, it’s the wind. That’s what I’m trying to capture and hopefully paint an abstraction that gives the viewer an opportunity to meditate on the Earth.”

In a way, Grimm hasn’t strayed too far from home. Her mother was a photographer who boasts a print in the Denver Art Museum.

Today the painter travels to various permaculture farms in dryland Native American communities to paint outdoors. She begins by laying down her colors with pastels, using that as a template for larger acrylic paintings.

“It’s a deep desire that I have to do it,” she said of her art, “and it can’t be verbalized. There’s not an ego-type thing. It’s something that I see that I try to channel from my painting.”

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