By: Maria Manuela
“If you think about the past, you are often depressed. If you think about the future you often have anxiety. The present is important because that’s where bliss and peace lay, because you’re immersed in all that is, and all that matters.”
Petecia Le Fawnhawk is a transmedia artist based in Los Angeles. An avid reader of ancient philosophy, poetry and literature — she’s a modern sage who views her process as presence in its purest form. “In being absolutely present, everything falls away. Time becomes irrelevant, you no longer notice the details of the room you’re in – you’re just absolutely immersed.”
The work Petecia creates is ethereal. She often appears in her own images, donning monotone ensembles and a wide-brimmed hat, set against big blue skies that dominate Southwest landscapes. In some pieces, she hovers above sand dunes as if she has supernatural capacity; in others, she’s accompanied by massive structures and sculptures that dwarf her. She skillfully builds these optical illusions set in expansive desert scenes by collaging bits of reality with fragments from her imagination, creating a transcendental realm all her own.
When I ask Petecia to describe her own work, she references what people have told her. “I hear that it’s otherworldly, dreamy and serene and peaceful. It’s the mood I feel I am trying to interpret in my own inner exploration; my own need to explore my relationship with myself and the world. I think it’s a visual depiction of that journey.”
The desert is her constant theme and deepest inspiration. “Nature is our greatest learning institution, if you pay attention closely enough it will teach you all the laws that rule the universe. The more we are in harmony with nature, the more we understand ourselves.”
“In being absolutely present, everything falls away. Time becomes irrelevant, you no longer notice the details of the room you’re in – you’re just absolutely immersed.”
Born and raised in northern Arizona, Petecia left at 18, ambitious to escape a small town. When she returned home for the first time, she was overcome with awe for the desert –and she’s been in love with its wilds ever since. She and her husband, fine painter Mark Maggiori, spend lots of time road-tripping the deserts of California and the Southwest. “It is my happy place. Our favorite thing to do in our relationship is travel and photograph each other, and engage with the desert. It’s definitely a place I continuously find inspiration.”
Petecia feels kindred to Georgia O’Keeffe, who also saw divinity in the desert. She’s working on a series inspired by Georgia’s flowers, in which she’ll photograph tiny fragments of natural desert material and blow it up to a large scale. Delving into art history and the works of artists past is another way she mines inspiration. “When you find a writer, or an artist, and you feel there’s a piece of you in them it’s exciting … I find that very inspiring.”
As a modern artist, much of Petecia’s work is seen via social media. You may know her Instagram account @lefawnhawk, which attracts over 55,000 followers, and her works are re-posted by aesthetic influencer pages like @taxcollection, which boasts over 520,000 followers. “Being an artist can be a very lonesome, doubtful, insecure place to be when you’re on your own. With Instagram you get such a supportive community, immediate feedback on the works you’re putting out there.” She says noticing she hasn’t posted makes her feel less productive, and pushes her to make something. “There’s this interesting accountability thing that happens ... it’s the beast you have to continuously feed.”
“Nature is our greatest learning institution, if you pay attention closely enough it will teach you all the laws that rule the universe. The more we are in harmony with nature, the more we understand ourselves.”
Petecia has big things on the horizon, including the birth of her first child. Her dream is to be a site-specific land artist and she’s taking her first steps in that direction. “I am finally making a sculpture of one of the pieces. I am going to take a road trip through the desert to photograph it.” She envisions a crowd-sourced project —which she stresses is in its earliest idea stages — that would allow her to create a massive version somewhere deep in the wilderness. Those who donate to her endeavor would receive coordinates to locate the sculpture. “They can go on this kind of pilgrimage to the desert.”
About the author: Maria was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she currently lives and works as a freelance journalist. She wrote several 2017 cover stories in the Santa Fe Reporter, and had a former column called Bed Head, which focused on New Mexico-based fashion. She also makes clothing and sells curated vintage through her online shop, Heirmana. Over the past year, Maria has become more and more dedicated to telling women's stories, as she feels it is the best work she can do during this time of change, awakening, and female empowerment. She highlights women who are inspiring movements, breeding positivity, and spreading supportive messages to other women through their art, music, food, design, writing, and more.