The city stands behind you, a geometric mass of old and new coming together. Modern architecture contrasting with the traditional adobe style house that has been built in this area for over 400 years. This is Santa Fe, New Mexico, home to over 83,000 people and tourist attraction to thousands more each year who come to marvel at the beauty of the city and the land around it.
Before you lie the drylands that surround Santa Fe, a vast expanse of desert that flows out from the city, becoming hills and mountains on the horizon. Upon first glance, this landscape appears simple and solid, stretching out before you. But the beauty and mystery of deserts comes out of its secrets and the openness that encapsulates them. You must be careful when visiting for staring open mouthed at the beauty for too long may lead to you never wanting to leave. It is an enigma that is hard to comprehend as it combines endlessness with openness with intensity and the constant feeling that what is before you may be real and may be simply a mirage.
Walking confidently across the landscape you can hear the light crunch of your boots against the dirt under your feet, the orange and brown earth below and the brilliant blue sky above. It is a sharp contrast that creates part of the awe-inspiring nature of the open desert. The fiery ground and azure atmosphere create a distinct line between earth and sky. Looking up you can see big, puffy, white clouds drifting lazily across the sky. Occasionally one will obscure the bright sun sending a momentary respite of shadow over the landscape. Soon it passes on, and the warm rays of the sun come back to tickle and sizzle your skin. Looking back at the land before you the auburn sand is interrupted by speckles of green that are the cactuses and brush that thrive in the intensity of the desert. Each in their own way of reaching up towards the sky.
The different succulents have exceptional patterns across their skin. Curving engraved lines that stretch across their arms and body, or a series of polka dots created by the protruding spikes, beautiful yet dangerous. The slowly moving sun causes the plants to casts shadows into the dirt that elongate and dramatize their unique shapes creating strange monsters in the sand. Popping out from the tops of these plants are little flowers of pink and purple and yellow, bright against their green backdrops. These flowers reflect the colors that burst in the sky as the sun sets at night, the orange of the earth mixing until the entire desert becomes a blooming painted sunset, the land turning a soft shade of pink.
Walking further into the expanse you might hear a sound, a rustle, and jump, unsure if it is just wind against brush or a nearby snake slithering its way across the ground. The only trace left behind to prove a snake was there is a winding path across the dirt that will soon be blown away. If you should find yourself engaged in a staring contest with a snake it will most likely be a western diamondback rattlesnake or gopher snake, both are masters of disguise, camouflaging into the earth. If you can tear your eyes away from theirs you will see they are covered in intricate patterns. The geometric scaled designs create stripes, dots, and diamonds that come in an assortment of colors that match the desert. The beautiful repeating patterns blend seamlessly into the rocky and cracked dirt. These magnificent animals slide across the land, moving quickly under the sun, a hidden treasure of the desert.
Walking through this dry land, you never know what you may come across, what patterns you may discover and what life may be blossoming.
This mysterious and beautiful landscape around Santa Fe, New Mexico is the inspirations for artists of all kinds. The desert has a hypnotic capability that enchants and stimulates those that stand amidst it. Fashion designer Sandhya Garg is no exception to this rule and used the imagery and her own imaginings of this landscape to create her collection "Serpiente".
Written by Emerson Craig