Sculpture and Installation

Art Installations: Woman Spirit Rising

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There is a common thread running through all of my early installation work-the materials, the rituals and the use of poetry. The rituals empower the form and the poems, thus connecting the experience both to the visual art and the participant. A small community is built by linking people together by their actions and words through the use of rituals, ephemeral materials, and found poems.  A found poem is built by finding, gathering and arranging written quotes from texts or individuals to create a new written form. A  manifold of these personal thoughts are arranged together to give a macrocosmic feeling to the constructed poem-the “spirit of the poem."

The installation Woman Spirit Rising held three equally important elements to celebrate both experience and environment. The visual form of the red and yellow ochre earth spiral allowed the viewer to see the artist's installation. The poem written and read by Barbara Tieken allowed the viewer to hear the poets vision. The fire dance ritual was performed to empower the space and to grant the viewer the opportunity to feel and experience their own vision.

Woman Spirit Rising created and original participation between the artist, the poet and the small gathering of people in that space. Morris Berman describes original participation as a manner of thinking. Participation by the individual is the self and the not-self identified at the moment of experience, and this identification is as much sensual as it is intellectual. It is a totality of experience.

I felt the sensation of losing myself in the experience while performing the fire dance ritual. There was no longer an “I” who experienced the work. The essence of the work was a feeling and each participant had similar yet personal experiences. -Nancy Tieken Lopez

Excerpt of Woman Spirit Rising Poem by Barbara Tieken

Never before had you known total silence,
experienced complete darkness
your torch, a faint spark
your breath, the only sound.

These became your temples,
your havens for expression.
Here your inspiration turned
to female, bull, and bison.

Red ochre your chosen color,
the blood of your mother.

Do you know, ancient woman,
that we know no more than you
about the human spirit?

Photos above:
Red Orchre River, San Jose State University Gallery, 1996

Woman Spirit Rising
, earth installation with poetry and fire ritual performance, 1997

Seeds of Change Installation, holding space in remembrance of 9/11. September 14, 2001
Artist in Residence at The Hambridge Center, Georgia
Earth circle with nine individual stones holding each other's healing thoughts.
Installation using ephemeral materials of the area with stone, seeds, beeswax, sticks with flame-burning ritual and silent walk in nature.

Thoughts Traveling on a Reed Boat

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One example of my artwork from the 90's is a performance installation that incorporated found poems, rituals and nature, Thoughts Traveling on a Reed Boat.  The piece began with each person in a Zen Awaking class writing a thought on a reed which was then wrapped around a bamboo boat. Before launching the boats the written thoughts were collected and arranged to form found poems. The first ritual was performed when the group simultaneously wrote on the reeds and wrapped the reed around a boat. The second ritual took place when I released the boats in the stream. This ritual was a ceremony that sent the individual’s message to the world.
The last participants were those who unknowingly discovered the found poems. These participants discovered the artwork by themselves, perhaps noticing small details on their daily walk on the nature trail. This group remains unknown to me personally except for the invisible bond that was established through the work.

Bronze Sculpture Within

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Nancy Tieken Lopez's graduate studies in the mid to late 90's included an emphasis on bronze sculpture and installation art that led her to using more ephemeral materials in her earth installations.The Within bronze orb installation included twenty bronze seed forms that held an element of nature within each sculpture. When touched, a light within the bronze orb would light up showing the viewer a leaf, seeds, amber glass, or rough diamonds. 1996

Spring Streams Art Hike

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In the Outside, article excerpt written by Palette Peterson, 1997
Collaborative strategies are integral to the work of artist Nancy Tieken Lopez, and were essential to her large scale production Spring Streams at Alum Rock Park in San Jose.  This work was a community experience in environment through art that incorporated performance, music, poetry, dance and earthworks.  Nancy worked with 13 other artists to create this event that celebrated nature and strove to reestablish community and personal connections to nature.  

My husband and I were fortunate to be amongst the 55 participants who gathered at Alum Rock Creek on a very warm morning in May, 1997.  As we approached the creek, we were greeted by drum music and were linked to the rest of the group by ribbons tied to our wrists.  Found poems were inscribed on the ribbons that were all linked to a 60 yard length of blue satin running through the middle of the group.  We were transformed into a shimmering silver-blue river that flowed up the canyon as we hiked through the park.  Found poems were also sandblasted into boulders that were placed along the streams and at the ridge line within beds of California wildflowers that Nancy had planted and nurtured through the drought-plagued spring.  

As we traveled along the art path, we stopped periodically to listen to the sounds of the didgeridoo, read a boulder, view an earthwork or watch the dancers.  Their movements were accentuated by the flowing white gauze and natural artifacts of their costumes.  They wove in and out of our path dancing amongst the flowers, trees and rocks while their white gauze swirled like ripples over our collective blue stream.  

Further ahead, two dancers performed at a cliff’s edge allowing their long veils to dance and play in the wind.  We hiked back down to the creek to listen to an oboe and golden ringing bowls while dancers in and along the creek flowed with the movement of the water.  At the stream, we were separated from the satin river and given a take-away made of wildflower seeds pressed between rice paper and sealed with bee’s wax.  My seed packet sits in my studio and never fails to take me back to the sights and sounds of that day.

Art Hike: Spring Streams Found Poems

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Found poems were sandblasted into boulders that were placed along the streams and at the ridge line within beds of California wildflowers  
while dancers performed at a cliff’s edge allowing their long veils to dance and play in the wind.  

Spring Streams used three Community Found poems, 1997

Tuesday morning
without sunshine
I hear the forest sing
Yellow flowers
watch me wake.

Deep within yourself

Limitless, unconditional

Without beginning, without end.

Deeper into the question-

This is the way.
There is no self.

There is no other

There is no self apart from other.


Spring streams are always
on my mind

Spring is life.

You are Spring.

Spring is you.

Crossing of Two Paths Ritual Performance

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Performance installation using earth, bronze bowls, sticks, golden fabric, and rice, with dance performance representing the four elements of water, fire, earth, air. Dancers created a ritual using the elements of each path. San Jose State University Gallery, 1997

Bronze Sculptures/1990's

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Nancy received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Southwest Texas State University and Master of Fine Arts from San Jose State University. Her graduate studies included an emphasis in bronze sculpture and installation art.

18 Triangles of Blue-green, bronze and stone, 1996

Gateway, bronze, glass, limestone, oil, 1994

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