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   from the issue of February 2, 2006

Life and family inspire Lied staffer


Marita Sanchez has been surrounded by the arts since birth - and, she has the picture to prove it.

GLASS AND STEEL - Marita Sanchez sits by
 GLASS AND STEEL - Marita Sanchez sits by "Estrella Vida" one of her two sculptures displayed in Star Art, a YWCA-sponsored community art project. Her other entry is titled "Dream Catcher."

"I have this picture of me sitting on a pottery wheel when I was 4 years old," said Sanchez, an on-call worker at the Lied Center for Performing Arts. "My parents have always been involved in the arts. It's just something that is a part of me."

Funneling family inspiration along with the loss of a friend serving in Iraq, Sanchez entered two sculptures into the Star City Art Project, a public art competition sponsored by the Lincoln YWCA. Both entries - "Estrella Vida" and "Dream Catcher" - were accepted and are on display through mid April.

"I was doing chalk art during July Jamm when a friend started to tell me about this new public art project," Sanchez said. "The idea really interested me and it is for a great organization. I decided to enter with personalized designs."

For "Estrella Vida," Sanchez created a sculpture that - for her - celebrates the life of David Moreno, a high school classmate and Navy medic who was killed by friendly fire in Iraq.

From an original design on paper, Sanchez used steel plate and stained glass to create a six-foot tall sculpture that is backlit by an internal fluorescent fixture. The sculpture marks the first time Sanchez worked with stained glass. Through trial and error, she was able to create hand-crafted glass inserts that reflect the original paper design.

"Combining the metal with stained glass was the only way I could replicate the luminosity in my original design," Sanchez said. "The glass is important because, to me, the color represents facets, parts of someone's life. This piece is a reflection, a celebration of life."

"Estrella Vida" - Spanish for "Star Life" - is on display at Sheridan Lutheran Church, 6955 Old Cheney Road.

FAMILY HERITAGE - "Dream Catcher," inspired by a Lakota Sioux blanket pattern, is Marita Sanchez' second sculpture in the Star Art project.


A family tree rooted in Native American history aided Sanchez in the design of "Dream Catcher."

Made of aluminum and copper, "Dream Catcher" is a twist on the traditional Native American design, weaving a six-point Lakota Sioux star design into a dream catcher.

"I was looking for a design and I saw this star pattern on a Native American blanket," Sanchez said. "I have many Native American ties in my family and thought that would make a great design."

Using a Lakota Sioux seven-pointed star as the outer frame, Sanchez wove a six-foot tall dream catcher - a device, which according to Native American lore, preserves good dreams while channeling away bad dreams.

In a center hoop is a handcrafted feather.

"I feel that, foremost, you are who your parents and grandparents are; that you carry their history with you," Sanchez said. "They don't determine who you will be, but influence who you will become.

"'Dream Catcher' is a reflection of my family - their creativity, ideas and things they have taught me."

Both sculptures represent backing by her family - as Sanchez' sister (who works with stained glass) provided pointers for "Estrella Vida," her father opened up the doors of his Oklahoma workshop, and other family members provided feedback.

"Dream Catcher" is on display at Pinnacle Bank, 7001 S. 27th St.

While the designs incorporate personal touches, Sanchez understands viewers will have individual reactions to the sculptures.

"That is what art is about," Sanchez said. "Everyone is allowed their own interpretations. I just hope they walk away appreciating the design, the colors used, the vibrance of the pieces."

The sculptures are the first public art showing for Sanchez.

"This was a great experience for me, and if the opportunity for more in the future, I will follow up on it," Sanchez said. "But, even if I don't get to put my work out there, I have a storehouse of ideas and I'm always going to be creative."

Sanchez hopes to restart coursework toward a fine arts degree. However she also has a pretty solid fallback position reinforced by a degree in mechanical engineering earned at Oklahoma State University.

"If art doesn't work out, I can always go back to being an engineer," Sanchez said.

The 2006 Star City Art Project is sponsored by the Lincoln YWCA.

The public art project features 69 sculptures featuring the "star art" theme. The exhibition - with pieces located all over the city - includes a variety of media, including steel, wood stained glass, photographs and quilts.

The Star Art project was designed to share the spirit of hope with the community, while rasing funds for YWCA programs and expenses through an April 28 auction of the sculptures at Pershing Center.

The artworks are on display through April. More information and images of all the entries are available online at



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