Carla Woody has had a penchant for the expressive arts since childhood when she began to write stories and draw. A look at her work over time tells a life story of travels around the world—and a distinct ability to distill place and culture. She works in oil and mixed media, frequently including gold, silver or copper leaf as a foundation. The influence of her twenty years’ involvement with Indigenous traditions is noticeable. Carla makes her home in a remote area outside Prescott, Arizona.
Respected pastelist Janette Maloy once described her work as “emotional.”
In a number of Native traditions, callings and guidance come through dreams and visions. Ceremonies involve prayers for the benefit of community and all natural elements. Symbols and creation stories are important. It’s been my privilege to sit in circle and participate in such rituals, to hear stories, over the last twenty years. Sacred sites hold the history of ancient peoples. What is produced through ceremonies from long ago until the present remains there.
Q’ero paq’os, or shamans, of the high Peruvian Andes speak of the chakaruna as someone who is a living bridge of feeling between cultures. My work today seeks to translate the essence of what I’ve experienced in a way that honors—with intent to invoke the sense of wonder and inner peace I’ve gained. Each piece has a story, and I invite the viewer to imagine their own within it.
“I was fortunate to spend a significant portion of my 1960s childhood living in a suburb of Paris influenced by French culture where the arts are valued. We traveled all over Europe. I remember spending a lot of time in art museums and exploring narrow cobblestone streets with my parents,” Carla says. “Those experiences installed a love for art and what different customs could offer, as well as a travel bug that remains with me to this day.”
Carla began informal study of art while living in Germany in the 1980s where she took painting lessons from a local artist. She also extended her travels in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Returning to Dayton, Ohio, she studied with Chief Hawk Pope of the Shawnee Nation United Remnant Band, her first influence to Native American ways of life and art. In 1990 she opened a working studio in a small complex with other artists, offering her paintings and accepting commissions.
By the mid-1990s Carla was drawn to Peru and Mexico where she discovered a deep connection with sacred aspects of Indigenous traditions and art. She pursued this thread, making journeys into remote regions of Peru, Central America and Mexico and, over time, developed relationships with spiritual leaders and healers who serve their communities. In 1998 she moved to Arizona. After several years, she developed friendships with traditional Hopi Wisdom Keepers living in their home villages in Northern Arizona.
In 2000 Carla began offering spiritual travel programs focused on sacred sites, Native ceremonies, medicine and arts in Peru, Mexico and Guatemala, as well as the Provence region of France. Hopi is a recent addition. Her ongoing involvement and experiential knowledge of Indigenous beliefs and sacred ways have heavily colored the subject matter of her artwork. Add to that thirty years as a daily practitioner of meditation.
“I’ve found that my learnings through Native ways and meditation have grounded me with clarity toward what truly matters—connection to all things, reciprocity, community—yet opened a portal beyond what my ordinary eyes can see. My intent is to convey that sense of the sacred.”
She is currently represented by 'Tis Gallery in Prescott, Arizona and The Gallery in Williams in Williams, Arizona.
Carla considers writing equally central as her art. She is the author of PORTALS TO THE VISION SERPENT, STANDING STARK: THE WILLINGNESS TO ENGAGE, and CALLING OUR SPIRITS HOME: GATEWAYS TO FULL CONSCIOUSNESS. Articles focus on spiritual development, sacred Native ways, peacemaking, natural healing and art.
Carla donates a percentage of all artwork and book sales to the projects of Kenosis Spirit Keepers, the nonprofit she founded seeking to help preserve Indigenous wisdom traditions in danger of decimation.
See related websites for more on spiritual travel programs and Native preservation works : http://www.kenosis.net and http://www.kenosisspiritkeepers.org. The Lifepath Dialogues with writings is located here: http://thelifepathdialogues.com.