Nichos at the Denver Art Museum

Sacred Spaces July 3-July 17 Denver Art Museum, Demo weekends July 7, 8 and 14, 15.  

Nichos are spirit homes for your home.  They are a folk art of new and old Mexico and provide a niche at home for spirits to live, protect, and bring fortune.  My nichos change up this folk art form which traditionally houses Catholic saints.  I create my nichos to house the astrological signs of Chinese zodiac and Buddhist and Hindu deities.  East meets West. 

How did I come by this art form?  Growing up in the southwest, I have seen these little tin boxes my whole life. November 2012, I was attending first Friday in the Art District on Santa Fe, Denver.  I went into Chac Gallery at 8th and Santa Fe Dr and noticed the nichos in the gift shop.  I was so inspired that I went home and googled "tin Mexican boxes."  As the search results poured in, I learned about the folk art.  I even found a place to buy the nichos:; I placed an order and pondered how I would make them.  Once I received the shipment, I began creating.  I had done some shopping at Yeti Arts in Boulder CO and found wonderful post cards with different Buddhist and Hindu deities.  Wanting to know more about the deities, I used them in place of the traditional Catholic saints.  I have been making nichos this way ever since.  Creating a home for a spiritual energy takes reverence and consideration for these special energies.  They need the perfect home to feel comfortable to do their work.    

May 2014, I received my 200 hr yoga certification from Shambhava yoga at the Konalani Ashram in Kona, HI.  This 21 day intensive changed my life.  I fell in love with the practice of Kundalini yoga, Babaji, the ashram, and Sangha, finally I found what I had been looking for.  I was introduced to the practices and teachings of the deities I had researched for the nichos.   

I was drawn to nichos, not only for their uniqueness and beauty, but their connection to my own native ancestry.  My mother's family is native to Colorado from when it was Mexico.  Our family came from Spain in the 1700s and settled around Taos, NM.  We then migrated to San Luis, CO.  As the Spanish and American boarders shifted, we became American citizens.  Today, our family lives all over Colorado, and mom grew up in Rocky Ford, CO with 12 brothers and sisters.  We have always been farmers and artists, with a close connection to the spirits of the Earth and cosmos.  Even though Mom grew up working the fields, she raised my brothers and I in Boulder CO.  She rose out of intense poverty to become a Social Security Disability lawyer and appellate counsel for my Dad, James Noel, who is also Social Security Disability Lawyer.  Mom works with the Federal courts and Dad does cases at the state level.  

Back to the museum, I had such a great time making these treasures in the 3D studio of the Denver Art Museum.  Everything from painting nichos, telling the story of my family and the folk art, to putting glitter on 50 plus little kids made the two weeks unbelievably magical. 

Thank you to the Denver Art Museum for hosting me and my nichos!

Thank you to everyone who came to visit, you are a true blessing in my life.