Visions That The Plants Gave Us

Donna Torres

Exploring ideas about shamanism and shamanic inebriants has been a key feature in my work. Using the history of shamanism as source material allows me to examine the roles of plants in cultures of the past, and I use these ideas to explore and clarify the relationship of inebriating plants to our own culture. Cultural views often negate the importance some plants have played in developing and integrating society. I like to address these issues in my work and offer them as a starting point to new ways of thinking about and discussing ideas.

Research trips to South America have also greatly influenced my work and have been important sources of information. For fifteen years, I have been active in the study of the pre-Columbian culture of San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. The culture flourished from approximately 200 BC to 1000 AD. The region's extremely dry desert conditions have preserved both the human and cultural remains of one of the largest shamanic societies in history. Artifacts of ritual and domestic life are abundant, and the paraphernalia used for the ingestion of psychoactive plants form a substantial part of the archaeological record. Study of this pre-Columbian culture has led myself and others to an investigation of ethnographic cultures in Argentina. One of my recent paintings deals with the loss of land rights by an indigenous tribe whose healing practices involve the use of psychoactive plants.

My oil paintings are executed in a narrative style using traditional genres such as still life, interiors, and landscapes. I have participated in exhibits of visionary art in Mexico, Europe, and the United States, and three of my paintings have been used as cover art for books. I am currently a graduate student in fine arts at Florida International University in Miami, Florida.


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