Qcc Artist Directory

About the Art

Over a millennium ago, the Mimbres Indians of southwestern New Mexico left a legacy of pictorial pottery that were depictions of their daily lives. Today we consider them almost cartoon-like in their simplicity. Artist Lou McCall combines her wit with history and casts an anthropological eye toward the future in her original “NeoMimbreno” designs; they blend a satirical slant on traditional Mimbres motifs with “artifacts” from the 20th and 21st centuries. McCall has chosen to portray contemporary life in their style, of 1,000 years ago.

“What will archaeologists of the future find when they excavate our culture?” she asks, “VW Bugs, ’57 Chevies, telephones, Chihuahuas with sweaters, these are some of our cultural artifacts.”

Lou is happy that many artists in the Mimbres region reprint the ancient Mimbreno designs, helping to keep this fine work in the public eye. But she wanted to do something that would credit the ancient artisans’ style while creating updates that represent the complexity of life today. Lou started marketing her innovative NeoMimbreno imagery in the early 1990s, offering cards, prints, T-shirts, advertising, signage, mugs, shopping bags, and more.

Lou feels that art is a bridge between the interior and exterior worlds. Creative impulses may be triggered by outer events, especially visual stimuli, but it is the inner world that brings forth the work. With her NeoMimbreno series, she finds a contemporary image that corresponds in some way with an original one. Lou’s designs are first drafted in pencil and then drawn in ink, and finally transferred to digital media for reproduction. Lou says, “I think of an image that I would like to do in the Mimbres style, and it can take a long time for me to land on the right way to depict my idea using authentic Mimbreno iconography that resonates with contemporary subject matter.”

Lou’s process is to focus on just one image at a time, and produce series of multiple designs, including the Classic NeoMimbreno Collection, The Return of the NeoMimbrenos, and the HolyDaze Collection.

Lou has been inspired by the Mimbres designs for a long time. In between other creative endeavors, she’s continuously returned to them, refreshing the series with new designs, applications, and outlets. Besides her NeoMimbreno work, Lou devotes her creative energy toward her personal writing projects and teaches yoga and meditation.

Bio

Lou McCall grew up in New Mexico and knows it well. She was born in Ohio and lived in Indiana until the age of 10, when her family moved to Farmington, NM.

Lou attended second and third grade in the progressive community of Columbus, Indiana where she cemented her love of art. Although little Betty Lou did not know it at the time, her art teachers belonged to the beat persuasion: they opened her eyes to the wonders of modern art.

Lou began taking art lessons, learning to paint in oils, and at age 13 she sold her first painting. After high school she moved to Albuquerque, with the intention of studying architecture. There she shared a studio with three other artists and painting soon became more important to her than attending university. It was here that she transitioned to working in watercolor and was a member of the New Mexico Watercolor Society.

In 1978. Lou moved to Silver City, NM, a thriving Shambala with an art community that was a big part of its identity. She co-founded what was then known as the Silver City Arts Council. Then, at age 25, she decided to go back to school and attended an art school in historic San Miguel de Allende, in Mexico. Delightful as she found it, after just one quarter she returned to the States, applying to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with the intention of studying printmaking.

After a year at the Art Institute, she discovered the fine art of animation. While in Chicago she worked for several production houses specializing in commercial animation and produced her own short subject experimental films. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and was accepted into the MFA program in filmmaking. Her graduate studies were cut short when Lou returned home to Farmington to care for her aging parents and spent almost a year as their caretaker. After they passed away, she spent a year in Santa Fe, where she finished a short black and white film which premiered at the 25th Annual Chicago International Film Festival.

She returned to Silver City to pursue her painting and in the years that followed Lou focused on producing large-scale colored pencil drawings and acrylic paintings. She began her series of contemporary images based on the pottery designs of the ancient Mimbrenos, a culture that vanished over 1,000 years ago, leaving behind a legacy of distinctive images depicting their daily lives. Her NeoMimbreno images continue to grow and evolve.

Suddenly, in 1999, she was back into moving pictures, when she was offered a job teaching video production to at-risk minority youth in Gallup, NM. Her students produced public service announcements and news stories that were aired across the state. She expanded the media program to include print journalism and radio. The students won several awards, including two national MTV awards and a Nambe Award in New Mexico. Among the highlights of her teaching experience was taking her students to the Taos Film Festival and Teen Media Conference.

Then suddenly, in 1999, she was back into moving pictures, when she was offered a job teaching video production to at-risk minority youth in Gallup, New Mexico. Her students produced public service announcements and news stories that were aired across the state. The students won a number of awards, including two national MTV awards and a Nambe Award in NM. Among the highlights of her Gallup experience was taking her students to the Taos Film Festival and Teen Media Conference.

In 2016 she moved with her partner to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, north of Taos and in late 2017 co-founded Questa Del Rio News, in Questa, NM, as its first editor. She stepped down in 2023 to focus on her own creative projects.

Contact

Lou McCall
PO Box 2431
Taos, NM 87671
lou@pixelcircus.org

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