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Every child is an artist. The problem is staying an artist when you grow up.

-Pablo Picasso


We, at WITNESS THIS, strive to support artists (be it photographers, painters, directors, DJs, Singer/Songwriters, etc.) and introduce you; the readers, our friends, our collaborators and our inspiration, to the other genius minds out there. We come across some of the most talented people, and while doing so, we found two inspiring young women who completely embody the idea of supporting artists and are taking tangible steps to turn this idea into a reality.

Monica Mueller and Bryn Merrell started Artful Venture with the goal to empower incredible artists throughout the world all with the shared vision of doing what they love. By featuring one artist each month and sharing their story and artistic aesthetic, Artful Venture hopes to bring the value of art back into the retail industry, in addition to broadening society’s definition of art. Artful Venture is more than an online fashion boutique; they curate wearable art in order to directly empower the artisan (their slogan: Wear Art. Support Artists).

Artful Venture’s product range currently holds jewelry, textile belts, camera straps, and artisan bags.

I got to chatting with the founders during their trek around the world from Cusco, Peru, and was so inspired by these incredibly driven, bright young (both in their early 20’s) women. They’re bringing value to art, and describe their vision and goal with us;

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The Artful Venture – Words by Mueller and Merrell.

No one can argue the importance of art and design.  Every object around us is designed in some sense. However, in this day in age, there is a huge disconnect between the actual artist designing goods, and the physical goods themselves. Faceless manufacturing corporations get in the way of us having a personal connection with the designer of our goods, taking the personal connection of the artist out of the equation completely.


Taking the artist and art out of this equation quiets their voice and aesthetic. And without acknowledging the art and artists that are ubiquitous in daily life, we start to believe that creativity and artistic ability is a rarity that only few are born with and are able to develop. What we need to acknowledge is that art is everywhere, and originates from creative people. Art is what we wear, what we see, and what we hear.


Without acknowledging the omnipresent nature of art, we lose sight of its importance, which is exemplified in the current global education system. Art is seen as an elective that only a select few children might be able to ‘excel’ in. We know it will take a while before society sees art as the forefront of our world, and therefore making it imperative in education, so Artful Venture donates a portion of each product to directly support arts education through our nonprofit partner, Arte del Mundo, based in Ecuador. Arte del Mundo offers a free afterschool program to local youth with a mission to promote literacy and artistic expression.

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These ladies are the new wave for our future as consumers, and more importantly, the future of artists. Their personal connection to artists around the world is creating conscious consumption of goods, by sharing the story behind their goods. Each month, they feature an artisan from around the world (meet the artists here) and hope to bring the value of art and the individual artists into the forefront of the retail industry.

To shop consciously and “Wear art. Support artists,” please visit the Artful Venture website:

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Posted in Art.

By Kari Hendrick

If you’re sitting here reading this article, congratulations. You made it. It’s December 21, 2012, and you survived the end of the world. You can now eat your canned food from your survival kit, remove your nuclear waste mask, wave goodbye to your fellow alien friends and take a big deep breath.

Or can you?

I write this article not with the intention of siding with conspirators, or to sound like another aloof Hari Krishna girl, but to educate you and share my – very real – experiences that just now, have started to make sense. Good God, where do I even start?

In July 2012 I ventured into the depths of Iquitos, Peru. Into the Amazon to work with Dona Otilia, a Shaman of Ayahuasca. What I knew of ayahuasca was little. What I knew of MYSELF, I now realized, was also very little, and I was about to form a very intense relationship with the two.

I stepped into the thick of the jungle, into a world that was unknown. Dark, magical, and alive. The buzz of the insects, the cries of the howler monkeys and what was more, the breath of the plants. I had been told about the plant doctors, and the healing medicines of these sacred greens. But I had never had an experience to base this one off of. I was scared shitless. I was scared of listening to something I wasn’t sure I believed in yet. I was scared of sitting alone with my thoughts and feelings, and writing about them for two weeks straight. I was scared that I was too skeptical, and that it wouldn’t work for me. I was just….scared. As a million questions scurried around my mind, and my heart beat into my temple, I took a big, deep, breath, nodded my head, and said to myself “let’s do this.”

Let me first give you some background. Ayahuasca is a blessed brew of two very proactive plants, the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, and dimethyltriptamine, or DMT, used for healing purposes by the native people of the Peruvian Amazon. Ayahuasca is said to be a “window to the soul” and deliver a communication to the human brain directly from the plant spirits. This communication allows you to discover YOU, it allows you to communicate into another world, with the assistance of guides or healers, to introduce you to an enlightened state of being. Yeah yeah yeah…I’ve heard it before too. Burning Man, Shavasana, Meditation.

Fastforward to my second ceremony.

As we sit in a circle, legs crossed ‘indian-style’ under complete darkness of the star filled Peruvian sky, I wait in silence for Dona Otilia to call my name. “Senorita.” Shaking, I manage to find myself kneeling before her, sage prayer brushed across my forehead, and the warm, ceramic cup against my lips. I ask, this time, plain and simple, for a rebirth. My journey, from here on, I have shared only with my closest friends, and still, pieces that I have not shared with anyone, nor, have I been able to write about.

What I do want to share relates back to December 21, 2012. It is the clear message that I received from the plant medicine that night, during my second ceremony on Ayahuasca. Louder than any meditation I have done, clearer than any message I feel I have ever received. And true. It only makes sense – To connect with the literal roots of our being. At this point, when the world DOES need change, to listen to those who have been here the longest, who have seen and felt the change, and the abuse of our earth. If they could speak to us, what would they say? The message is really much clearer than we think. And much more important. In the words of author Terence Makenna, I guess 2013 is the year of “The Plan Where the Plant Saves the Planet.” Think about it. I could write forever, but do your own research.

One of the most important things to note about ayahuasca. It is made in a ceremonial way, stirred, and blessed by the Shaman’s during the entire day-two that it cooks in the place of it’s origin. This ayahuasca brew was seen from my tomba the day before my second ceremony.

My mesa. My prayers, piece of home, and intentions for the future. This comes to ceremony with me each time.

The campo

Dona Otilia, Shaman of Ayahuasca

Explore your own Shamanic Journey: