My work today comes full-circle with playing as a child. I recall being outdoors as much as possible, growing up in Minnesota near lakes and woods. I would collect wood, twigs and stones and arrange them, attaching them into a number of tableau. In the winter I worked with craft materials and fabrics, learning to sew and do needlework, much like the women in my family.
It wasn’t until later in middle school and college that I became interested in fine art, drawing, printmaking and painting, especially being drawn into color and working in an abstract expressionist style. Fortunately, I had a really great teacher who introduced me to women artists in history. Through mentorship by this teacher and other women who I joined in the cooperative WARM (Women’s Art Registry of Minnesota) I gained the confidence to continue as an artist and move to Chicago to attend graduate school at the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA 1994), concentrating on painting.
I moved to Brooklyn after graduating and felt a great freedom to expand beyond painting on canvas and experimented with different surfaces and media. I was attracted once again to craft materials and began making elements to be used within pieces, composing arrangements. It was satisfying and more quick to choose items to attach as opposed to mixing color and layering. I felt a part of a community in a small corner of the art world and was able to regularly show pieces from each body of work I made. I kept collecting materials from thrift stores and my job at McCall Pattern Company where I could find cast-offs of fabric and craft materials. I also had a studio in what used to be a pom-pom factory that had left many pom-poms behind!
I go back and forth between abstract painting and making sculpture, as each can inform the other. CurrentIy, I make sculpture from beach-combings and a lifetime of collected odds and ends. Lately the most interesting items come from Dead Horse Bay, an old landfill in Brooklyn that was never sealed and leaks into the ocean. Much of the trash is from the 30's and 40's when tenants were evicted from their homes when highways were built through their neighborhoods. Much of the debris found there are personal items (mixed with toxic waste, apparently) and the whole area - which oddly, is part of a National Park, evokes a sense of loss and mismanagement, feelings that certainly persist in our current politics and pandemic.
Sculpture is a long process of carefully selecting, adding and subtracting - balancing and attaching. It can be very meditative and calming, unless I'm trying to find an exact what-not in my vast stash. Sewing is a daily relief. I try to surprise myself and come up with something new that delights me. Making art is healing and helps me have a small sense of control. It is important for me to find resiliency and beauty in both the outer world and within my art-making.