By Cathy Tollefson '83
“Attabeira en Cacibajagua” emerged from the imagination of Glenda Black Guilmet B.A.’81, B.A.’89 after a trip to the Rio Camuy Caves in the highlands of Puerto Rico. On a quest to understand her Taino Indian heritage, Glenda learned about Attabeira, the water spirit in Taino creation mythology. She combined Attabeira’s visage with the hibiscus, a plant native to the island, to create this, the first in her Womenscape series.
Caves have long been a stimulus for Glenda’s art. “They are the oldest museums,” she says. In 1985 she visited the Cave of Les Eyzies in France, where the sight of her shad-ow, mingled with the Cro-Magnon art there, inspired the idea for her Shadow Dance series of photographs and photoglyphs. Glenda invited friends to “shadow dance” next to a rock cliff wall on the banks of the Snake River in Oregon and photographed the forms cast by their shadows at night. “Shadows aren’t something to be afraid of,” Glenda says. “They are to be played with! My goal [in the series] was to accent human commonality and shared tribal origins.” Both are evident in the indeterminate forms, representing all people and all races.
Glenda’s initial recognition as an artist was a first place award in the 1988 Crosscurrents art contest at Puget Sound for “Shadow Dance #1.” Later, the Bibliothéque nationale de France acquired several pieces in the Shadow Dance series for its permanent collection. This spring, Shadow Dance (Nine Muses books) will combine Glenda’s photographs with the poetry of David Lloyd Whited. Glenda’s images also have been reproduced in Native America in the Twentieth Century: an Encyclopedia, Sojourner’s Truth and Other Stories, The Seattle Times, Raven Chronicles, and other publications.
Whether her medium is silver gelatin prints, oil paints, or buttons, Glenda has succeeded in part with the aid of her “other side,” her business sense. Glenda earned her first Puget Sound degree in business administration. “No one is going to ‘discover’ you,” she says. “You have to get your work out there. John Dickson [the former Puget Sound business program head] would have been upset if I hadn’t mentioned the business part.”
Glenda and her husband, Professor Emeritus George Guilmet, live in sunny Blyn, Wash., at the head of Sequim Bay. You can e-mail Glenda at firstname.lastname@example.org.