Specializing in pastel portraits, Teri Sodd portrays the realists expression and feeling of the people of the Southwest. Clarity of color and depth of the emotion in her portrayals.
Sodd, a self-taught artist, favors depicting the Plains Indian tribes and their way of life. Honored with countless awards, Sodd's work appears in numerous collections, including those of Larry Gatlin, Roy Rogers, B.J. Thomas, Marty Robins, Loretta Lynn, and Gary Morris. Her works have also been displayed in galleries throughout the United States.
John (Tall Mountain Bear) Madden
Sodd, is first and foremost an artist but is a strong example of a woman. No doubt she could stand shoulder to shoulder with the three "women" she admires. Kathryn Hepburn, Betty Davis and Barbara Streisand.
Her home is her studio, sitting atop one if the foothills of Sierra Blanca, with the mountain as her front yard, outside of Ruidoso, New Mexico. She is surrounded by a blend of animal bones, furs, relics and reproductions of the past.
Teri started traveling to weekend shows. And as a result, "Mountain Arts" was born in 1975. During those trips, she met, and became friends with many Native Americans. These beautiful people and their costumes kindled her drawing interest. Shortly thereafter, she started working in pastels. Her art became the people she loves, the Native Americans.
By 1979 the dream of becoming an artist, put her out on the road. The education was not just art and how to create it, but ethics, business, stick-to-it-of-ness, friendship and learning to do whatever it took to fulfill your idea. It was hard, but it was fun and a real education.
In 1981 she fulfilled another of her dreams. She moved to Ruidoso with her daughter, Mandolin, her mother, Billie, and opened a gallery.
1988 was the year of permanence for "Mountain Arts Gallery", after several moves, as Teri was able to purchase the existing site and she fulfilled still another dream. Today her gallery carries the work of many of the most sought after artists and craftsman.
Over the years, Teri has studied the work of artists such as, Norman Rockwell. "His work was so real, the people were alive and they had feelings." It is easy to see this type of influence in her work, because she strives to capture the realism, the feeling and the emotion which is translated into her art. She brings honesty to her work, that acknowledges, whether it's the actual piece of art or in the marketing of the work. So the artist must maintain customer quality, for the benefit of the collector. The realism artist must bring the moment, created in the piece of art, to life. That requires an honest interpretation and a knowledge of the event, person, place or time. To do that requires that the artist must convey to the public, but more importantly to the Native Americans.
"The people, places and things I feel best about, are always in direct relationship to or with the Native Americans. That's when I feel at home, that's when I feel the best". In 1985 Teri participated in the "Indian Trails Tour". During that time she met, ate with, stayed with, and became friends with families from Chimayo, Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon DeChelly and Red Rock. Listening to Teri talk about this trip, it is easy to hear that her biggest reward was, the friends she made and still has.
She is devoted to being an artist. Fulfilling her potential is not only important, but it's a driving force in her life. At the same time having a top notch gallery, displaying her work and others is also very important.
Several years ago a friend of Teri's, of Cherokee-Lakota heritage presented her with, her first medicine bag and her first eagle feather. The friend also gave Teri her name. "Morning Star Rising". Always seen at the end of her signature, it represents the first star at night. Gifts such as these come from a people who believe in giving and they are the treasure of our lives.
Teri acknowledges that she is very fortunate that she and her mother are "best friends". Their friendship is a lighthouse of strength. Her mother has helped Teri mold her art. "She is the wind beneath my wings".
Over the course of our interview, we moved to her 4-wheel drive down a rough and rutted road. And finally to a stream feeding Bonito Lake, near Ruidoso. Sitting by the stream seeing the honesty of her emotions as she answered my questions and observing her tranquility with nature, this long-time backpacker, camper, and photographer, knew she was as she said "very comfortable when I'm outside with nature, and enjoying my life as an artist". The value one sees in her work, is that it has meaning, feeling, and emotion of a people, together with their pride, not just marketability.