Wonder Woman + The Wilderness: The Story Behind Our Artwork

- By: Safia Ohlson

Admittedly, calling someone Wonder Woman is usually hyperbolic. In the case of Marisa Aragón Ware, the artist behind our labels, it is much less of an exaggeration than you’d ever expect. 

She is a native to our hometown, Boulder, Colorado, which is rare enough.  Add to that, she is an accomplished illustrator, poet, rock climber, violinist, tattoo artist, journalist, children’s book author, and was recently accepted into Spectrum 26, a yearly publication of the best in contemporary fantasy art.  She’s a university-level drawing instructor, a practicing Buddhist, a trail runner, beginner ceramist, and a paper sculptress. Yes, she’s a badass. 

Yet, she’s also kind, and real, and deep. She is vulnerable about the humbling experience of being human.  She loves animals and gets into the outdoors every day for her own sanity.  She has a rescue dog with no tail named Echo, and she doesn’t eat meat. Nature is medicine for her body and soul, and if you look closely at the hyper-detailed geometric orientation of her work, you can feel the vibration of these qualities pulsing through the animals she has depicted for us. 

“The fox is kind of a portrait of my dog, Echo,” she says. “And I love the gentleness and innocence of deer. Also, stags represent protection. And who doesn’t love owls? They are so magical. I can hear one hooting in my backyard in the middle of the night.” 

It was very intentional that we chose her art for our products. Her reverence for the outdoors is evident in her work, and it captures the spirit of our company perfectly. 

“I feel it is my duty to go to the forests and mountains and bring those experiences home via my work,” she says. “If I notice what is happening in nature, and I am truly present with it, I get to feel the joy and beauty of that expression, and it becomes medicinal for myself and, hopefully, for those who receive it through my art.” 

As any artist will tell you, turning one’s artistic passion into a sustainable flow of cashmoney is no small thing. We asked her how she does it. “I feel so fortunate to do this,” she says. “It’s not easy, and it requires a lot of trust. I work hard, but it is grace that has connected me to the people who have helped me make the necessary connections. I’ve had to become OK with uncertainty. I’ve cultivated an attitude of friendliness toward people, and in doing so, I have created community. It is through community and connection that I have experienced success.”

When asked where in nature she sources her inspiration, Marisa says, “I love the desert at the Utah and Colorado border. The Pueblo ruins there are incredible. The silence is so complete. There is a depth to that kind of silence that is full and calming. And, yet, my truly favorite place to get outside is amongst the Flatirons, here in Boulder. I know this land and all the trees here so well.”

If you’ve visited Boulder, you might recognize its foothills in some of the poetry she has shared with us. And if you haven’t been to Boulder, Marisa’s words will give you a lovingly accurate snapshot of their magic. We hope you enjoy, and are inspired to get out and explore nature soon!  

                                

(All poems by Marisa Aragón Ware.)

To Remember 
I come to the forest 
carrying my heart
like a burden
like a stone
calling to the world 

Can you hear me?

Are you listening?

When I leave the forest
my footsteps are soft
on the fresh snow.
I lift my face to the sky
and sing
What can I do?
For you, beloved world,
who has given me everything.

Tell me, please.

I am listening.

 

The Meadow
Every year
at the end of May
this field
blooms with a scattering of yellow gold
like a giant spilled his purse of bright coins
across the land.

They open their faces to sun
and breathe in the sky
they drink the light, eat the soil
and water flows
through their green veins like blood.

And what have I learned in 34 years. 

I’ve learned that no matter how heavy my heart is
no matter what new name I have given to pain
 
if I come to the meadow
and meet the flowers in their brief, complete joy

I too, can bloom.

 

Kin
Apple tree
growing wild
by the trail
near my house
at the base of the mountain
you made your life.

Many times

I ran past you
my dog at my heels
sweeping my hands across
the broad tips of high grass in summer
and breaking the white perfection
of newly fallen snow in winter.  

One fall day
I found you
broken
your fruit scattered on the ground
your slender frame
split and splintered
more than half of your limbs
fallen to one side
only one small part of you
still upright.

I remembered then

the fat and joyful bear
I’d seen days before
in the green valley
near the dry creek bed
sitting on her rump
and pulling down branches
of choke cherry trees
chewing relaxedly
unconcerned by our presence
as my dog and I watched.


I knew
she was the one
who broke you 
but how could I begrudge her
her survival
or her delight in being alive
and eating ripe fruit in autumn
before her long sleep.
Still
I mourned the loss of your beauty
you were never tall
but you were graceful and lithe
your fruit were tart
and your branches against the sky
cut a silhouette like a river
running down a mountain
becoming small creeks
diminishing
into tiny streams.

Today

it is spring again
and as I run with my dog
past the place
where your roots have kept you
I stop in astonishment
to see
fresh blossoms
blooming effulgent
from your broken limbs
and in that moment
I understand
you and I
are kin.