(Unless otherwise noted, all paintings are watercolor/mixed media on hand-felted wool and rice paper.)
I am kind of an image junkie, especially images of the subconscious or dream state. I became interested in art as a teenager and the Surrealists were who I found first.
I began my actual art career working in fibers. In undergraduate school at Virginia Commonwealth University, I was a weaver and felt-maker and worked with many materials and textures. I taught all of these processes as well as papermaking and became enamored with paper, the simple beauty and incredible versatility of this everyday material. While I loved texture, and the structure of textiles, I also loved images. Even when I was weaving, I was collaging painted images onto the canvas surface.
Eventually, I combined my love of paper—specifically mulberry and rice paper—with the felt to create a “canvas” that allowed me to paint in detail, but retain an unusual surface. I began working with watercolor—a medium I’d previously never understood or been attracted to—and realized that the rice paper took the watercolor beautifully. I could work in a series of glazes that left the watercolor looking more like oil paint than traditional watercolor.
Towards the end of graduate school, I was in a horrific car accident that permanently altered my body, During a long, slow recovery, I became very interested in the body, looking at x-rays, and anatomy and biology books. Forms such as organs, umbilici, and bones became really beautiful to me. I began to look at the biology systems of plants, animals and humans and explore how these three connect or intersect.
While some pieces have a narrative quality, I don’t really plan the images to tell a story. A specific image may begin the process and the rest simply builds from there.
For many years, I have been a meditation practitioner, gravitating towards sound meditation. We go through life with sound entering and exiting our space without our consent. This movement creates a sort of symphony that needs no composer. I believe we encounter the world visually in the same fluid way except as mostly unconscious or un-awake.
Most of my work attempts to layer images as we hear sound. We see the world in constant flashes of form and color, and I question why these seemingly disparate images can’t be connected, just as we connect sound. I attempt to harness the moving picture into an image that combines the abstract with images of our daily experience.
In 2012, I moved to San Miguel Allende, Mexico. San Miguel has inspired new images and diverse opportunities. Mexico is a very surrealistic country especially San Miguel. Sensuous colors and forms often present themselves in strange, appealing juxtapositions. A kind of magic is built into the culture that accepts the unusual, and references my early interest in surrealism.
My painting influences over the years include R. B Kitaj for his spatial sense, and Francis Bacon for sheer power in his imagery. I also love Lenore Carrington and Remedios Varos, both ex-pat artists who spent the majority of their lives in Mexico.
A recent series I am working on involves birds or bird heads used as totems. Masks of all kinds have also always interested me, and of course, there is a rich tradition of mask-making in Mexico.
The idea of taking a live thing and giving it traditional or ritual characteristics appeals to me. Birds have an iconic, almost primordial place in all cultures, and I hope to filter this idea through my particular interest in hidden biological systems.
This spring I will be in the south of Spain for several weeks where I was awarded an art residency by the Valaparaiso Foundation. The work I will complete there is scheduled in late October for a solo exhibition during Day of the Dead in San Miguel Allende.
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