My brief encounter with artist Ulrike Arnold was the result of a botched attempt at a quick getaway.
We were exploring a cave occupied by Anasazi Indian hundreds of years ago(!) when I realized I needed to get back to Amangiri to shoot food. Ulrike works on a natural raised platform right outside the cave, and I thought I'd try skirting around her work area. She beckoned me up instead, telling me the fastest way back was through.
Once in her zone, I felt like a moth hopelessly drawn to a flame, and that flame was Ulrike. She twirled me around with things to show me, beguiled me with all the evidence of her labor: her smock, her paintbrushes, her glues, her canvas weighed down by rocks. She described to me her philosophies about art and creation, demonstrated the prayers she gives each day to her muse. She was a magnet, a spark, and I wanted to capture everything. It felt a bit greedy actually, the way I regarded her, and those five minutes in her presence felt like a moment frozen in time as the wind whipped our hair and rain droplets suspended everything around us.
Ulrike is Amangiri's resident artist and spends about two months out of the year on the property. Her medium is the earth (rocks and minerals she collects in the area) and the stars (meteor dust, provided to her by her meteor supplier!), which she grinds and lashes onto her canvas along with other found objects, the molted skin of a snake maybe. The elements do their thing—she doesn't interfere—and eventually a finished piece transpires. Her art is elemental by definition, organic by definition, the word terroir comes to mind. As in, the terroir of Ulrike's pieces makes them pure and authentic expressions of the land.