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Las Cruces artist brings the dead to life through her paintings

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- It's not uncommon to see local artwork at markets around our region but artist Chelsy Spicer has a bit of a different take on art. She brings the dead to life. “I’ve been painting my whole life, painting and drawing, it's just been a part of my life,” Spicer said. Spicer's blank canvas are the skulls of dead animals. “A lot of people look at them and they think of sadness, I don't want you to think of that, they loved their life, they lived a great life and now there here and I’m going to make you look at them a different way,” Spicer said. The 27-year-old is originally from Pittsburgh.  A relationship eventually led her to Las Cruces several years ago.  “Now this is what I consider home, sorry mom and dad,” Spicer said laughing. She tells ABC-7 she's fallen in love with the land of enchantment. “Once you get here it's like what is this magical place and why have I never heard of it before,” Spicer said. Spicer has splashed bright colors on dozens of skulls that range from cows to buffaloes and bears. “It went from a hobby too, ‘Ok I think this is going to be a life long career for me’,” Spicer said. The skulls don intricate native designs adorned with actual copper - turquoise and rustic pigments. “I love the colors of the desert,” Spicer said. She started off by selling a few skulls at the Las Cruces farmers market. “Most of my sales are through Instagram now,” Spicer said. Under the name @spiced_ink -- Spicer said she has since sold pieces across 16 U.S. states, in Canada and across the sea. “I have one in Japan,” Spicer said. You might be wondering where she gets so many skulls. Does she scour the deserts of Las Cruces for them? "I have people bring me skulls, some steer from local farms, javelina from up north that someone found, a lot of people if they are doing commission they'll bring their own skulls," Spicer said. For Spicer — painting is therapy. “I love every step of the process, I love getting the skull, connecting with the skull, cleansing the skull, coming up with the design, painting it,” Spicer said. And painting over a surface that's not flat, comes with challenges. “The different angles like on this piece I’m painting on the side here and it's really hard for me to get these straight lines at a weird angle,” Spicer said. Despite the occasional achy shoulders and back, Spicer said she will continue painting as long as she can. “All I know is that I want to be creating five years from now. So wherever that takes me, whoever I meet along the way, I just want to be creating,” Spicer said. Whether she's meeting more of the dead — or of the living, “I’m excited to see where my journey takes me,” Spicer said. The skulls cost anywhere from $175 to $1,750 and if you're interested in seeing more of spiced ink's work you can follow her here at:
Article Topic Follows: New Mexico

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Jim Parker

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