Monte Azul is Magical, Mystical, Love

My three-week stay as an artist in residence at Monte Azul was a transformative experience, filled with magic, mystery, and love. I am deeply grateful to Carlos Rojas Jara, Randy Langendorfer, and Henry Jackson for the generous Award.

Although I have traveled internationally for many years, this was my first visit to Costa Rica. I arrived with an open mind and many questions: Who am I? How do I connect to this splendor? Where does the world go from here?


Monte Azul Art Center for the Arts provided the perfect environment to explore these questions. The place is imbued with magic, especially in its rich biodiversity and vibrant colors. As an artist resident, Fully embracing the philosophical approach of Monte Azul’s founders I fully embraced the philosophical approach of Monte Azul’s founders. The first three days were dedicated to observation, listening, and solitude, and though I had 24 hour access to two studios (painting and printmaking) right next door to my quarters, I reluctantly refrained from creating until the late afternoon of the third day as recommended. 

During these initial days, I explored the property, the rainforest, and the surrounding Monte Azul area. I visited a local cheese farm and milked a cow for the first time. Regular trips to the farmers market introduced me to locally produced delicacies. The Chirripó River, flowing just steps from my studio and room, provided a constant symphony of nature. One memorable lunch at the family-operated Trucheros Cocoliso even involved catching my own trout that was then prepared for me on the spot. I realized that the Monte Azul approach allowed me to retrain my mind to live in the moment, to immerse myself into, and to fully be present in my new surroundings, to evaluate and refine my concept, and ultimately to absorb the exuberance that surrounded me and intellectually process the imagery and emotions that filled my thoughts. By day three I was ready to produce and fully aware of the place using all of my senses.

Like magic, my creativity was revitalized and directed my work for the next few weeks.


My journey began in San José, where I spent two days exploring museums. The dramatic landscape of Costa Rica, with its high altitudes and steep inclines, was a stark contrast to my home in Washington, D.C. On my second day at Monte Azul, I ventured into the rainforest with Esteban. Within minutes, I encountered the enchanting blue butterfly (Morpho pleideises), a moment that set the tone for my mystical journey.

The consistent sunrise and sunset times, a feature of Monte Azul’s near equatorial location, created a regular rhythm to my days. The absence of visible stars at night, replaced by the flickering lights of fireflies, added to the mystical atmosphere. The vibrant, shimmering colors of the environment, enhanced by the equatorial light, altered my perception.

Immersing myself in the Chirripó River’s crystalline ionized waters, flowing from 12,500 above to the Pacific Ocean, had a profound impact on my body and spirit, an experience I’m still processing. My creativity flourished—I created six large collagraphs, five medium collagraphs, and two editions of woodcut prints, all under the guidance of Master Printmaker Salomón Chaves. I also nearly completed two paintings, which I plan to finish back in D.C.


Carlos and Randy’s sensitivity and care were evident in every aspect of my stay. The organic, fresh food contributed to my physical and mental well-being. The rich conversations about Costa Rican history, Afro Costa Rican culture, and rainforest biodiversity were intellectually stimulating. Their genuine desire to make me feel welcomed and cared for was a pure expression of love.

Monte Azul Art Center is a place of magic, mysticism, and love. As Pablo Neruda said, “If nothing saves us from death, at least love should save us from life.” Monte Azul embodies this sentiment beautifully.

Return 2025

I am happy to announce that I am returning to Costa Rica in January of 2025 to create work with Master Printmaker Salomón Chavez of the University of Costa Rica and Ileana Moya, a printmaker, fiber artist, and handmade paper expert. Foraged indigenous flora of the rain forest will be incorporated into paintings and prints created on handmade paper. 

Solo Exhibition 2025 

February 6, 2025 at Monte Azul Art Gallery in Costa Rica. For this exhibition I will present the works produced on site, including a special series of woodblock prints which I am offering at a pre-publication price for this limited edition 10 signed and numbered prints. The pre-publication price is $500 and the price at the opening is $600. All of the proceeds (100%) from these prints are donated to Monte Azul Art Center to provide residency art awards for Costa Rican artists to attend a residency at this beautiful space.

Contact to acquire your piece please contact the artist:

Cheryl Edwards