The Relationship between Art and Nature – A Visual Desert Journey 🌵

Glass art sculpture by Cheryl Collins at Desert Rose Labyrinth.

The relationship between art and nature.. So.. natural..

This post is a purely feel good post about celebrating nature, art, and art in nature. I know I’m not alone in my love for this –  that’s why there are so many art and nature quotes floating around out there.. 

If you follow my art, you know that it’s hugely influenced by the desert – and all nature, really. But I have a passion for bringing cacti to life and I just can’t stop. I just won’t stop. 

image of a cactus pattern with gold yellow cacti and turquoise stars.

If you find yourself drawn to certain areas or locations because of the nature surroundings – like the ocean, mountains, rainforest, or the desert, then you can relate.

In this post, I’ll take you to one of my favorite places on the planet to immerse yourself in some art and beauty. It’s a desert community tucked into the southwest corner of Utah, so if you’re not from around there, I’ll put plenty of photos so you feel like there’s red sand between your toes..

Kayenta Art Village – Art in Nature, Nature in Art

If you haven’t visited Kayenta Art Village, it truly is an incredible destination to go and appreciate art –  surrounded by the most incredible and beautiful nature – nature art.. 

Not to be confused with Kayenta, Arizona, Kayenta Art Village is in a remote location in Ivins, Utah, inside of the Kayenta Homes community. The community is primarily made up of artists and retired professionals, so the art village is a gathering place for many visiting tourists, as well as some very creative locals.

Within the village are a few beautiful art galleries filled with an eclectic variety of fine art, gift art, jewelry, metal and bronze sculptures, wind sculptures, and more. I have a personal connection to this village, as I chose to work in the art village during my years in Southern Utah, (I also sell some of my art prints and cards through Juniper Sky Fine Art Gallery).

There’s a lovely restaurant and bar called Xetava Gardens – and Xetava Bar and Kitchen. If you’re up for a sun soaked afternoon of inspiration, a gallery walk followed by a drink and a meal at Xetava will change your whole mood..

But since I am focusing on “nature art” in this village, I’m going to stick to the wild pieces of art that really call to me in this little gem of the desert.

As you weave through the village and the little walking paths on the outskirts, you’ll likely  be blown away by nature herself. Here is a small taste…

desert cactus and flowers in the Kayenta Art Village

That’s just a little glimpse of the desert life.. (along with a beautiful buffalo mural painted by artist David John. It felt like it was as natural as the flowers so the mural made the cut).

Desert Wind Sculptures by Whitaker Studios

It won’t be long before you’ll come across these incredibly powerful wind sculptures created by artist/engineer, Lyman Whitaker. Located in galleries across the world, these sculptures are created at Whitaker Studios, in Kayenta Art Village. They really play with that relationship between art and nature and really good engineering. They stand tall – above most of the desert willows and catalpa trees, and are framed by the red cliffs surrounding the village.

The wind sculptures can mesmerize you if you just need a moment to let your mind rest. I feel like you can sit anywhere in the art village and focus in on a wind sculpture somewhere… they’re everywhere!

nature art sculptures in the form of wind sculptures engineered by Lyman Whitaker in Kayenta Art Village.
Wind sculptures by Whitaker Studios in Kayenta Art Village.

There are many art sculptures throughout the village, but there are a few permanent sculptures I always gravitate to across the street at the Desert Rose Labyrinth (which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2024!).


The Desert Rose Labyrinth

art in nature sculpture featuring Desert Rose Labyrinth in Kayenta Art Village
Desert Rose Labyrinth in Kayenta, Utah.

I love finding patterns in nature, and I also love creating patterns from nature. This outdoor nature sculpture made of rocks large and small fulfills that longing for pattern satisfaction..

The Desert Rose Labyrinth really is a nature art sculpture in and of itself. Laid out and maintained by volunteers, the labyrinth offers an experience of introspection and hope, accompanied by release and letting go. And this is what I love most about this art in the desert.. The labyrinth invites you to walk into the center and leave something behind – something you feel ready to let go of… The walk out symbolizes your first steps in walking lighter and more free.

image of Kayenta Desert Rose Labyrinth sculpture This center rock is where people place a little symbol as a reminder of what they have left behind. That small stalk of desert ephedra, or Mormon Tea, is my contribution to the little pile of nature treasures.

This particular labyrinth is also surrounded by metal and glass art sculptures. Some of my favorites are Cheryl Collins’ glass art sculptures. Cheryl is a dear friend of the village, and her art is infused with intention, meaning and wisdom; there is always a deeper message shining through. She works with local metal artist Trent Ripplinger to create these glass and metal sculptures that always seem to work with the surrounding nature perfectly.

Cheryl’s celebration of the feminine through colorful glass is fierce and soft and dynamically flowing. Here are some of her labyrinth sculptures:

image of Cheryl Collins glass art at the Desert Rose Labyrinth in Kayenta Art Village
Outdoor nature art sculptures by Cheryl Collins and Trent Ripplinger.

Cheryl’s glass art sculptures can also be seen around town, and her latest sculpture, Bird Woman, another collaboration between Cheryl and Trent Ripplinger, stands 12 feet tall in the roundabout on Main Street and Diagonal in St. George.

Once I complete my time in the village, I like to finish my day by taking the long way home. I like to time my art village visits to be in the afternoon. That way, when it’s late afternoon and I’m ready to head out, I can take the mesmerizing Taviawk Drive and see one of the most spectacular examples of art in nature ever.

image of glass art in desert - artist Cheryl Collins, Utah

This stark cliff wall is always a piece of art. When it’s raining, incredible waterfalls are flowing everywhere. When it’s snowy, the red rock contrasted by the white snow just sort of catches your breath. And when it’s sunny, getting close to sunset, the wall reveals a piece of art – an imprint or wash of color that paints a picture right before sunset.

I guess I’m just so mysterious I’m not going to point it out – instead, I’ll just leave an image of this wall, just as the art is beginning to emerge; just as the sun is hitting it perfectly.. A visual meditation of sorts..

If you’re not sure you see anything, no worries – staring at this cliff for as long as you have just aligned all of your chakras and sang a sweet lullaby to your brain. It’s a win win!

I hope you enjoyed this visual journey into a beautiful desert art experience with me. I do have a nature-inspired hippie heart, and in addition to providing resources and how-to’s to other creatives and artists, I am most happy when I am sharing what inspires me. 

May you take a moment to connect to what inspires you today too.


Other posts you may enjoy:

Solstice and Equinox – Nature Inspired Art to Celebrate the Seasons