Kopavi is a Hopi word for the soft spot (fontanelle) at the top of a baby’s head when it is newly born. Loosely translated, kopavi means ‘open door.’ Hopi mythology holds that the small pulses that may be seen in the fontanelle are signs the child is still communicating with the source from which it came. It is the ‘open door’ to communicating with the life source. Once the fontanelle hardens over, the child is fully submerged in this life/world. When I read The Book of the Hopi and discovered this term, I named my dog Kopavi, for she was the open door to my heart. I realized the word Kopavi could also signify the creative connection to our source that we must have to really create a work of art.
Biography Candice J. Stuart
Born in 1950, I spent my early years in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. My father was a painter in the medium of pastels and oils, and designed window displays for the Eaton’s department store chain in Canada. Our family moved to Santa Barbara, CA in 1958 after we had spent a year in Paris and London visiting the many galleries and museums. Graduating with a BFA from the Santa Barbara Art Institute in 1976, I then began self-directed study — something I have been pursuing ever since.
My father was the biggest influence on me as I avidly observed him painting and constructing assemblages while I was growing up. He rarely gave advice, so his admonition “Don’t copy” really made an impression on me. Like him, I am in love/awe with nature’s intricate forms and endless beauty. Two other early influences in my artistic development were Jean (Hans) Arp and Piet Mondrian. Arp created organic shapes, sometimes giving them a hard edge which I interpreted as a recognition of the robust spirit of scientific advancement in that era. These shapes seemed to combine the sensual and the intellectual. My series “First Forms” is in homage to Arp. Mondrian’s search for the spiritual simplicity of forms and his interest in the Theosophical Society channeled my own sensibilities at the time.
I am strongly moved by work that is made by indigenous peoples as an expression of their cosmological beliefs — in particular, the Aboriginal ‘dreamings’ and Huichol visionary yarn paintings as well as the North American carvings and artifacts of the Haida, Salish, Tlingit and other tribes, which transmit their deep reverence for the land and its peoples. In my understanding, indigenous peoples give creative, artistic expression to their cultural visions as a channel to the sacred and numenous dimension of life and their intimate connection to the source.