OGDEN — Her brush strokes are bold and yet intimate. Kwani Povi Winder comes from the Santa Clara Pueblo Tribe and believes it is a privilege to capture her people’s rich traditions through her art.
“I can’t remember because I have always ... I’ve just always been, from what my mom says the time I could hold a pencil, I was always just (drawing) stuff. But I didn’t always want to be an artist. So I loved art and entered a whole bunch of competitions when I was younger,” Winder said.
Despite the beauty she has portrayed in her landscapes and in her native figures, Winder studied science hoping to become a doctor or a physical therapist.
“My dad passed away unexpectedly and art is kind of what got me through it. And so I decided that if that’s where I turned to when things are hard, I should probably be headed that direction,” she said.
Winder says the connection between her knowledge of biology and studying the physical world has clearly helped her art.
Art and motherhood
Just as she was establishing herself as an artist and wife, another change came. Winder was expecting a baby with her husband, Dallen Winder, who she calls the perfect partner.
“I spent a lot of time terrified that I would lose my art, that I would use this huge part of me that I’d finally found, I guess, because it was still new. That’s where my faith came in to play. If I really wanted this, Heavenly Father would help me make it happen,” she said. “He would help me figure out how to balance that and how to make it work. And he sent me a daughter that is incredible.”
With daughter Tayva close to her heart, literally and figuratively, Winder painted and soon realized her little one understood.
“She’s extremely observant. She will sit and watch, and she’s very respectful,” she said.
As soon as Tayva could hold a paintbrush, she started creating her own art.
“I let her explore. I try and say ‘yes’ as often as I can to her to help her, you know, enjoy it,” Winder said.
KSL cameras captured mother and daughter sitting side by side working together on a painting. From the moment you walk into her home, you can see through her art that Winder has brought the strength of women forward with the mother-daughter connection through the generations.
Beautiful paintings of family groups grace her living room walls.
“I’d started painting women a lot to honor their beauty and their dedication to family, but also their spirits,” Winder said.
A painting of her mother is in the new Latter-day Saint exhibition at the Museum of Church History and Art in downtown Salt Lake.
“I’ve been able to lean on her and lean on her faith, and in her, in turn, was strengthened by my grandparents, and just kind of there was a whole bunch of emotion and thought went into that painting, of wanting to show who she is, and who we are as people, and show that we have a spiritual side.”
Vision of the Arts Fund
This art career is even more of a family affair. Winder's husband, Dallen, helps her cut her own frames. They now have their own chop saw set up in their garage, thanks to a ‘mother artist grant’ from a nonprofit Vision of the Arts Fund from her Latter-day Saint community.
“There’s a group of us women that all of a sudden we’re all in this same ... phase of life," Winder said. "Being able to ask people for, some of those artists, for help or just being able to talk to them — just knowing that I wasn’t alone was a big thing.”
Being able to ask people ... for help or just being able to talk to them — just knowing that I wasn’t alone was a big thing.
–Kwani Povi Winder, artist
Something else happened, which Winder considers a blessing. As an artist she became more efficient.
“I am able to paint more in less time than how I was able to paint when I had all the time,” Winder said. “It’s just ... I don’t know if it’s more valuable to me, so I’m more efficient. But I know that I have been blessed in other ways to make this happen.”
The grant was made possible through the online Vision of the Arts Auction that runs through April 27.
Kwani Povi Winder believes the gifts that she possesses, coupled with the support of her fellow artists, will help her tell the story of her unique heritage.