I came across the work of artist and herbalist Tamara through her site Botanicals Folklorica a few years ago. I was really inspired by her work and how she presented herbalism is her own very unique way- full of beauty and her experience. Each offering seemed so thoughtful and you could tell there were many layers to her process, as well as a deep relationship and understanding of plants and of her Texas landscape. I ran into her on my last trip to Austin and enjoyed a beautiful wildflower hike that she recommended. Seeing the fields of Texas spring wildflowers in bloom was so breathtaking- if you ever get the chance do go in spring! We hope to get Tamara up here for a visit and look forward to teaching a workshop with her someday. Enjoy her inspiring interview, playlist and vision board//medicine wheel- the perfect exercise for getting clearer and setting new intentions this spring.
What motivates you to do the work that you do?
I am motivated by the curiosity to rework ideas and retell histories that excite me. I'm motivated by the hardwork one can accomplish on one’s own. The apothecary in my studio feels like a natural extension of my interest in the healing Texas landscape in combination with the nostalgia of growing up with a mother who placed roses in the bath and lit candles for me. The traces in those ideas are constant and push for more permanency in my work. Even the most subtle tones of encouragement are motivating.
Do you use plants in your work and if so, how?
Yes, I love to collect and identify wild edibles and medicinals. I use plants in botanical arrangements, herbal infusions and in the subject matter of my artwork. Lately, I am attracted to the flowering parts of plants. The details in the buds, their petal formations and gentle patterns. The language of flowers is precious. Blooming flowers are promising.
What are the tools of your trade that you couldn't live without?
That's a tough question. I love a pair of old metal shears and a leather sheath my friend Christopher Franks made for them. He stamped, “FOLKLORICA” on the black leather case. They are forever mine which feels like I'm now carrying a potential heirloom on my plant walks.
I could not live without my plant identification books and flower press. These books carry so many notes, learning lessons, and solved mysteries. Also, I could not live without my baskets! I sincerely adore each one of them. I want to add my sound recorder to the list along with my favorite charcoal pencils for drawing.
What do you turn towards for inspiration?
I turn towards the most unexpected places for inspiration. 99 cent stores. archive collections. libraries. mountains. hiking. places where decoration, religion and recreation come together. old mexican pastry shops. yard art environments inspire me endlessly. And, the tireless hands of craftsman inspire me to work harder.
I put together a small playlist on Spotify that has been on repeat in my studio. I will say that I play the first song, twice most of the time. I loved Jason Molina. An amazing human who left such an impression on many of us.
Please include 1 instructional for a quick project someone reading this could incorporate into their own lives. This can be a creative exercise, visualization, recipe, or a literal how to.
VISION BOARD // MEDICINE WHEEL
A vision board is the safest place to imagine all your desires and dreams. Its all-deserving. It encourages a realness for your passions and pursuits. It is also a promise to yourself, and if made collectively, with your partner, colleagues, or collaborators, it could will create a substantial bond.
Tear a large piece of paper. Go big. Get real. Make this a poster size. I made mine on a large piece of old wallpaper because I loved the pattern so much. Draw a circle in the center and draw rays of lines coming from the circle. Inside the circle write down your name or whoever/whatever you may want to begin giving a full vision towards. Perhaps you've had a failing disappointment, or you need to start over, this visualization project is about manifestation, but just as worthy for reconciliation and progress.
Its a fair way to show someone or a dream/pursuit that you care and it/they are worth your time.
Focus on positive language. Its way too easy to be negative. Nothing worth having is easy. Be intentional. Get creative. Cant find the words? Draw an image or write down a few words that come to mind. Write down your goals, rituals and new habits, places you want to go, people you want to meet, dedications and promises.
Do NOT limit yourself.
Do not think hard about this.
You deserve a place to express yourself with no pressures.
You are worthy of everything you dream for.of.
Tamara Becerra Valdez is an interdisciplinary artist and herbalist. Botanicals Folklorica was launched in 2012 specializing in herbal infused honeys with plants growing in the Central Texas region. The apothecary has since expanded with more creative ideas surrounding native Texas ornamentals, wildflowers and rituals for the body and spirit. Valdez has maintained the integrity of healing traditions surrounding the locale of Texas and Mexico with an emphasis on detailed and thoughtful packaging and arrangements.
Currently, she is self-publishing a series of field guides inspired by the Texas landscape and working on a upcoming exhibition in Austin, Texas. See her most recent exhibit here.