Artisan Interview with Lavelle Foos

artisanLavelle Foos is a 40 year resident of Ashland.  She is a wood sculptor, wrought-copper jewelry artisan, musician, and one of the warmest hearted people you will ever have the pleasure of meeting.  She and her art are connected at a level that inspires, and assures us that everything and everyone under the sun has a place.  Lavelle has clearly found her calling and it shows both in her art and in her manner of being.  She just rejoined the market after a hiatus in the San Juan Islands.  She has come home, and we are honored to have her in our midst as an artist and a teacher.  As an artisan of 22 years, I am humbled when I talk with Lavelle, and I consider her an elder within our community.  I invite you to come down to the Lithia Artisans Market along Ashland Creek and talk with Lavelle about her art, craft, and relationship to this blessed ancient world we all share.  You just might go home with a beautiful wearable piece of art.  You will definitely walk away with new insight and a warm feeling. 

You just rejoined the artisans market this year, but you were a member long ago. Tell us when and why you chose to live in Ashland?

I have lived in Ashland for 40 years.  I was 30 years old when I came here in 1970 after teaching high school theater arts and communications.  I wanted to live in a place that was ripe for me to explore being a visual artist.  That unfolded into wood sculpture and making big signs for some of the local businesses.  I also had a home on Oak Street that became a center for people to find some inspiration and rest before moving on — a lot of people were on the move at that time.  People were moving along trying to find a new way, a different way.   My life has had grand evolutions along the way, including a 7 year stay in the San Juan Islands.  My arts flourished there but I missed my “real home of Ashland.”   I had to come back to my heart and roots.  I am here now and very thankful to be back.   I am 72 years old now and my family is Ashland.  I enjoy seeing many of us age together, being with the town, even though it has grown, it is still “magic” and a human center of creative passion and communion.

Why did you follow the path of an artist in this lifetime, and how did you discover the artist within?artisan_2

I am a self taught artist.  I learn by tapping into the ancient natural world all around us.  To be an artist calls for the duration of imagination, which is the key to creative fulfillment, and to be effective in our time, art must be concerned with renewal.  My art is an expression of sanity, an honoring of beauty and expressing messages from nature that we humans need.  I trust my art functions as a mirror, reflecting self-acceptance for myself and others to make our lives more beautiful and more meaningful.

What inspires you to create?

What inspires me to create is a passion inside which is so strong that I have to create in order to feel whole.  My art takes many forms… jewelry, sculpture, a way of seeing the world.  I am also a musician, playing guitar, Native American flutes, harmonicas, and using my voice.  I am focused on making original music with myself and others.  The music has an “earth gypsy” quality and at the same time a feeling that the heavens are opening to the universe.  I feel connected with the ancient DNA of myself, and therefore the world.  I have a card that represents me with the saying … “Ancient Echo”.

I create with wood, deer antler, crystals, amber, copper, abalone and Tibetan turquoise.  These are ancient elements and I feel great passion with each of them.

Your art form takes many shapes.  Copper work, wood sculpture, jewelry artisan, musician.  You have a distinct style.  How did that style come to you?

As an artist, I work with nature’s elements of teaching and healing.  One of my materials is ancient redwood which makes its way to me only if it was naturally downed by lightning.  Much of the wood is over 2,000 years old.  Sacred elements of the earth speak to our souls and to our bodies. They offer us beauty.  Water, wood, crystals, minerals — each serves as a conduit for light, energy, transformation, and transmutation.

Inspiration to create comes to me in artistic solitude, as well as in collaboration with clients who desire a piece for a specific application.  In my experience, both approaches produce results with great purpose.  My work is a tool for creating a new and more beautiful, healthy world.  I am a sculptor creating sacred art, which is a tool for receiving guidance from the realms of nature and the mystery.  I guess my style comes to me from the Earth, from mother nature herself.

artisan_1You also sell a cd of original native American flute music. How did that art-form come about for you? What inspired the music on the cd?

The CD is called “Opening The Heart”.  It was inspired by the desire to have a CD with Native American Flutes using the deep soothing tones that start at the heart center and go deeper into the lowest center in the body.  I created the CD using 5 different low tone individual flutes, incorporating reverb and echo to enhance the lingering tones and then return to the heart center.   I am playing my soul to the wholeness of the inner self.  The music is created to help ground the listener in a sense of well-being.

What do you love about the Lithia Artisans Market?

I love being part of the Lithia Artisans Market.  It feels essential to what this town is about.  We have the theaters, as well as the visual, wearable artist represented.  There is a heartful resonance within the environment of the Lithia Artisans Market.  It feels magical to come to the market place very early in the morning, listen to the river flowing, and set up ones personal and collective world together for 2 days.  It is the gypsy way in present time.

I truly appreciate each person that is part of this market.  We are all of the heart.  Helpful sharing is what we get to do together.

Learn More:

www.lavellefoos.com