Carmen Winter, an artist from childhood, believes in living in harmony with the land. She manifests her passion, “to inspire & enhance awareness of sustainable living through art”by re-fashioning items that have been discarded by society or that come from nature . Using different techniques, Carmen creates artistic expressions, infused with her love of color, textures, and beauty.
Born in Toledo, OH,Carmen opened her first businessin Springfield Townshipin 1992: Back Alley Peddlers.After 3 successful years, Carmen decided it was time for new challenges. She moved and purchased an old hardware store in the South End of Toledo, on Sheriff’s sale. [The building is nowthe Joe Martinez Galaria and the offices of the Sofia Art and Cultural Center] Carmen,then age 18, spent the following year in Middle America.While she traveled through Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala, and learnedto sail thru the Caribbean, she learned, livedand taught amongindigenous people in their villages. As she traveled, she learned to make jewelry and began to develop skills and increased her knowledge about the importance of living in harmony with nature. Upon returning to Toledo,Carmentook the hardware store and repurposed it into the “One World Café”. There, she engaged others in her vision of artistically repurposing spaces and objects,while further developing her own skills of turning trash into art. But her spirit needed to move, as her vision grew. Carmen moved west, first to Los Angeles and then on to Hawaii. During her fourteen years on the Big Island, she developed Akua Lani Farm, a sustainable farm and forest sanctuary,resting within the rare Native Hawaiian Dry Forest on the Big Island of Hawaii. Her sanctuary was a model of sustainability; she lived a green, zero-waste life, using solar power, and rainwater catchment. There, Carmen further developed her skills and capacities; creating art from what others discarded. She also created a businessselling incredible hot- sauces and tasty herb mixtures, made from Native Hawaiian chili peppers and other local ingredients. After years of living off the grid, it was time for Carmen to bring her ideas and entrepreneurial creativity back to California, where Sustainable Secrets was born:www.sustainablesecrets.com. With California’s abundant trash, Carmen now focuses on encouraging others to reclaim, recycle and use less plastic, especially in the form of single-use plastic items that quickly becomegarbage. Using her skills,she takes discarded plastic and creates artistic creations that call out to others to join her vision of creating a sustainable world. Some of her current work, using discarded paper, reflects on her Mexican heritage; honoring the iconic Mexican artist of the 20th Century – Frida Kahlo. With another project she advocates, thru her art, on the dangers of ocean garbage, exemplified by the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch, and its ultimate durative; microplastics, that will harm us all.
Whether it’s eco-art jewelry made of found objects, the “trash” of others, or thru creating an organic farm that produces products from the crops the land wants to grow, or thru a boutique of upcycled clothing that doubles as a community gathering space, Carmen has found success on all levels and continues to proclaim the message: We are part of nature and nature is part of us: Only by protecting nature can we thrive AND SURVIVE!
Papercrete planter boxes in the making.
Nov. 2014 to May 2015 Southern California; worked on commissions and edible landscaping projects.