Inside the dreams of Fidalis Buehler

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Fidelis Buehler a professional Euro-American/Pacific Islander artist. Photo credit: Fidalis Buehler

Fidalis Buehler, a professional artist and art professor at BYU, presents his newest collection of art at the “Dream Speak” gallery. He chose this for this gallery because a lot of his art is inspired by his dreams.

“The majority of the work is based on a collection of dreams I’ve had, things I’ve written down and things that have been part of conversations with my mom,” Buehler said. “My mom plays a big role in this.”

When he was younger, Buehler and his mom would talk about the dreams they had for hours.

Buehler gets lost in dreams and envisions them as his own memories.

“That’s kind of the beauty of them is that they become so interplayed into your own consciousness that you lose sight of their origin,” Buehler said. “They become mythical in nature.”

Buehler comes from a biracial family. His father is white, and his mother is Gilbertese. In the Gilbertese culture, they believe clouds help people move on to the next life after they have passed away.

His sister passed away from cancer in March 2020. Cloud for You symbolizes Buehler’s sister catching her cloud to the next life.

"Cloud for You" By Fidalis Buehler
“Cloud for You” By Fidalis Buehler

Faintly on the top of the painting are the words, “Let’s go home.”

“I’m hoping that she’s on that cloud, that she’s able to find that pathway home,” Buehler said.

Buehler’s painting, Picking Palm Trees I, is a tribute to his mother. When she was 17-years-old, her father passed away. She dropped out of school for the time being to help her mother provide for her and her siblings.

She traveled by canoe to a nearby island to collect coconuts from coconut trees. She would sell the coconuts to a British company that was using them to make coconut oil.

In the painting, Buhler didn’t include coconuts.

“I thought it was a much easier way to describe what she was doing as opposed to making a coconut,” Buehler said. “I felt like the palm tree or the coconut tree was a lot more identifiable.”

"Picking Palm Trees" by Fidalis Buehler
“Picking Palm Trees I” by Fidalis Buehler
"Picking Palm Trees II" By Fidalis Buehler
“Picking Palm Trees II” By Fidalis Buehler

To Buehler, dogs represent a cross-over between domesticated and wild, they can protect but also instigate the problem. He compares people to dogs.

“That domesticated versus wild-like nature behind all of us is a fascination of mine,” Buehler said. “I like to think about the dog plays the role of the good and the bad.”

Buehler has two pieces in his Dream Speak gallery that include foxes. The foxes represent the same domesticated versus wild-like nature as do the dogs that he paints.

"Fox Trot" By Fidalis Buehler
“Fox Trot” By Fidalis Buehler
"Fox in the Hen House" By Fidalis Buehler
“Fox in the Hen House” By Fidalis Buehler

Buehler said his best work comes from, “spontaneous streams of consciousness coming together at the right moment.”

Buehler takes his built-up emotion and transforms those feelings to create that personal aspect into his art.

“My work is considered naive in nature,” Buehler said. “It’s childlike in the way it’s representing the figures.”

His art is based on memories and his personal experiences. His children have a big part in his artistic inspiration. He takes things that they have said and incorporates them into the titles of his artwork.

Buehler has high expectations for himself and his art.

“I have some really lofty goals and lofty takeaways that I want people to have,” Buehler said.

He hopes that his artwork will change people’s lives.

“It’s not necessarily about me, it’s more about where they zero-in on their own personal experiences,” Buehler said.

"Tree Killer" By Fidalis Buehler
“Tree Killer” By Fidalis Buehler

He likes to challenge himself to be able to create a masterpiece that will impact someone else’s life.

“Maybe what I do today will help somebody out,” Buehler said. “Maybe what I do today will influence someone to think more highly of themselves … maybe to just reflect and be aware.”

When Buehler was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he separated himself from people and things to reevaluate his focus.

“I had put everything behind me, everything that was my past,” Buehler said. “Everything that led up to my joining the church, I kind of put it on the shelf … with the guidance of the gospel, it helped me to focus my mind and kind of chart a course for my future.”

Buehler went on a mission a year after joining the Church. After his mission, he started taking art classes. These classes triggered past memories, and he gained the desire to share them with others.

“I began to dig back into my past, and I found all this information,” Buehler said. “It’s kind of like opening up a box that you left in the attic for a long time.”

During his third year of college, he was struggling with an accounting class, so he reached out to his brother for help.

Buehler’s brother said to him, “I think I see your problem, your problem is that you’re an artist, not an accountant.”

"Star Pool" by Fidalis Buehler
“Star Pool” by Fidalis Buehler

Fast forward a few years, Buehler now teaches art at BYU. He tells his students that once you decide to become an artist and you choose that as your career you are a professional.

Buehler encourages everyone to not put parameters around our potential and to not limit themselves when it comes to things that they care about.

“Feel empowered to enjoy the experience of doing the thing that you care about,” Buehler said. “If you’re passionate about it, if you’re obsessed with the thing that you’re doing I think you will succeed.”