Six Sides to Her Story: Eugenia Ortiz, the Hexagon and the Art of Becoming

MISSION, Kan. – Two words changed the course of Eugenia Ortiz’s artistic journey – and her life. At the same time, they reinforced a central motif of her work: incubation, growth and becoming.

The words didn’t come from a critic, a professor or a fellow artist. They came, she says, from the Universe itself.

After earning her Bachelor of Arts in 2001 and her MFA in 2011, both from the University of Kansas, Ortiz shifted her focus from textile – a medium in which she created intricate womblike structures in muted tones – to painting.

The foundation of that change came to Ortiz as she pondered her creative future.

“I was walking around my apartment, and I heard a voice say ‘Save eggshells,’ as clear as day,” she says, sitting among her works on display at the Mission Arts Center. “It wasn’t like hearing something in your head. I heard it like someone speaking out loud. Then it said ‘Eggshells’ clearly again – just “Eggshells.”

So, she started saving eggshells, crushing them into paint to change its texture: “I thought, ‘Wow, this is so beautiful.’ Then I started incorporating fibers.”

As she did, one form kept taking shape.

“I kept seeing these honeycomb patterns,” she said. “It didn’t really register at first that they were hexagons. I thought, ‘What’s happening here?’ and as I was discovering it, somebody else said, ‘Oh, that looks like DNA.’

“That made me think – because I was already studying human behavior patterns in my energy work. I thought they were memories of human behavioral patterns. Then I started learning about sacred geometry.”

That study, combined with the study of the hexagon in the natural world propelled her farther along this new direction. A dozen years later, that shape still frames all she creates, from her canvases, to hand-painted clothing and a line of accessories.

“It’s the strongest structure in nature,” she says. “It’s the most efficient, holds the most volume – and it’s made by bees, the greatest architects in nature.”

With the change in direction came a marked shift in visual impact.

Ortiz’s work, once so muted, is overwhelmingly riotous with color: vibrant blues, punctuated by striking highlights in brilliant reds and yellows, reflecting her Hispanic ancestry. And in her latest show, RESURGENCE, Ortiz has punched both color and geometry up several notches by incorporating black light and 3-D effects in several pieces.

At the same time, however her blue-centric palette, while still preeminent, has seen some shifts toward lighter tones. And while it’s still anchored by hexagons, some works in her latest show hearkens back to the wild organic growth of her textile creations – including echoes of the womblike imagery that marked her MFA work more than a decade ago.

“I’m still exploring and discovering,” she says. “There’s a piece I did years ago. I put the black light on it, and you don’t even need the 3-D glasses for the multidimensional features to be seen. This piece is an example of the evolution of my artwork. It seems as if it has its own life force.”

That ethos – the artist serving as a conduit for her own work, from a source outside herself – is especially personal for Ortiz.

“There’s so much that’s hidden in this artwork, because it’s a channeling,” she says. “I’m connected to the flow of the universe, and so this is a channeling. Something is coming through me that is living and wants to be heard and seen.”

Her aim as an artist, Ortiz said, is to keep that channel open and to be carried along wherever the flow takes her.

“It’s a calling,” she says. “Although it’s been over 20 years, it still feels to me as if I am just getting started as I continue to develop new techniques. I didn’t know any of this was going to happen. I just heard ‘Save eggshells,’ and that changed the direction of my artwork.”

Through Nov. 11, 2023
Mission Arts Center
6124 Johnson Dr.
Mission, KS 66202
More Info at www.MissionArts.Center
New Dimensions Solo Art Exhibit at Enterprise Bank and Trust
1737 Main Street
Kansas City, MO 64108
Artwork currently on display until Dec 2023. Closing date TBD