We live in world of sacred space and forms but know it not. Lifting the veil that screens this
reality from our perceptions is the artistic dream of Valentin Arrellin. Working in the
medium of wearable art — hand-painted silk coats —Arrellin’s explorations of sacred
geometry took a leap forward when the downtown Santa Fe gallery Singular Couture
hosted a one-man show of his work from July 21-August 6.
The Mexican-born artist’s work is based on natural patterns and shapes from the
microscopic to the macrocosmic. “This sacred geometry is in everyone, everything and
everywhere, from the tiniest particle, human body part and animals to plants, planets, the
galaxy and the Universe itself,” he explains.
The path is a crooked one to his unfolding realization and career as an artist trying to
portray the underlying nature of the universe. Born and raised in Zacatecas, Mexico, he
entered the University of Zacatecas to study mining. Graduating as a mining engineer in
2000, he immediately went to work in the field.
“But it wasn’t as exciting and fun as I thought as a kid it would be. I began to dislike it after
a few years. It was especially hard because I was away from my family. My son was born
the same year I graduated and I missed him very much. I quit, thinking I’d get a job back in
Zacatecas but at the time there were not many opportunities there and I decided to keep
going and keep looking. At the time I had some family in Santa Fe and they suggested I
come here, so I did.”
That was in April 2002, and he immediately grew attached. “It’s quiet and a good place to
raise kids, and I was also impressed with all the art. It’s everywhere, with lots of styles and
forms. In my engineering studies I had been really attracted to geometry and the creation
of various forms and shapes — triangles, circles, squares and so on. I keep reading a lot
about math and I ran across a term, ‘sacred geometry,’ and in my free time I began drawing,
drawing, drawing. In 2016 I decided to try a watercolor on paper and after a while I
showed one to an acquaintance . This was a former director of the Santa Fe Opera, and he
asked me to do a patio mural at their home. It was really big and I’d never done anything
like that but I thought about it and decided I had to go for it. It was hard work. I was mostly
down on my knees and had to deal with all kinds of weather —rain, snow, wind and intense
heat. It took me nearly a year, working part time.”
In November 2016, Arrellin met Sarah Nolan, owner of Singular Couture. “She saw the
mural and liked it, and asked me if I wanted to do a coat. I am so glad she gave me that
opportunity, to put my art out there. She is that way. She looks for responsible people, but
she gives them total freedom to pursue their own ideas.
“Half of any job is having the right tools. Initially I had a hard time painting on the silk. It is
a bit bumpy and moves around, and my type of art requires real precision. A corner of a
triangle must match up with the other parts of the triangle on seams and down the
centerline. I had a hard time one the first one, called “Fractals,” and wanted to quit, but
Sarah was charming when I turned it in and asked me if I wanted to do another. I said ‘Yes.’
I didn’t think about it. I decided to challenge myself. My grandfather used to say, ‘If you fall
out of the horse, get back on it or you’ll be afraid to try it the rest of your life.’”
“The second coat turned out better. Every one I do is a learning experience; there are
always new challenges. I had to learn what types of paint work best; they must be durable
and washable, yet flexible. It was research, research, research. It’s easier now, and I love it.
Once you do something you love you want to keep doing it.”
He is still constantly exploring sacred geometry and finds examples of it everywhere: in the
stained glass “rose” windows of churches, in sunflowers and other natural forms, in
architecture. Has even noted its use in Egyptian monuments, and in prehistoric temple
complexes of the Aztec, Olmec and Maya cultures of Mexico. “It’s everywhere. Once you
begin working with it you see it all over: on doors from the Middle East and Islamic
cultures, among Jewish art and religion, in the architecture of Catholic churches. I am
fascinated about how they learned this and passed it on before there were books and the
For friends, he’s now also doing some acrylic paintings and dreamcatchers, which also
employ geometric forms and patterns.
He is also raising his son, a senior in high school. The son will be off to the University of
New Mexico in the fall, and Arrellin will have additional time for his art, so watch for big
things to come from him in the years to come. Meanwhile, check out his hand-painted coats
based on what he’s learned so far. It might open your sacred-shaped eyes….