An Artist's Statements

  fiber/sculpture

painting/physical

  painting/breath

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Final Graduate Work & my following year

Graduate school was an intense and challenging time for me.  I was immensely grateful for the time to commit to my studio process, engage with mentors and teachers and many very talented MFA peers at the University of Washington in Seattle.  Early in my time at UW my work began to shift away from straight painting; the work took on sculptural components and voice.  


I had just returned from living abroad in Japan teaching ESL and studying traditional arts, ceramics, ikebana and paper making in Matsue, Japan.  I was trying to make sense (probably)of the experiences I'd had there. In Japan, the age old forms and traditions of making things were finely honed and honored and it got me thinking what I had been taught just simply by what was around me, what did I see, what had I grown up seeing around me -- what were the traditional arts of the mid-west around the 1960's, 70's and 80's from my eyes?  What came to me was a tactile quality of materials, mostly fabrics, yarns and various craft materials; I knew what these felt like and they had a voice in my hands.  I started collecting various hand-made craft items from the shelves of various Salvation Army shops. I just let these things have a place in my studio.  I loved the colors and the intricate patterns of the crochet work and the personal story acrylic yarn has was rooted into my sense of touch from an early age.  The shapes I was trying to paint on canvas pushed out into space and began to claim size, multiples and attitude.  Parts of the story that came with the materials worked with my sense of humor and also with my sense of placement and vantage point. The work took on a playful and child-like voice, sneaky with meaning or in your face bold.  My thesis piece, "Nah nah na na Nah", was a 15 foot crocheted doll.  When you came upon her in the gallery all you could see were her 5 foot wide clean white panties, the ruffled edge of her dress, her white sox and Mary Jane shoes.  She was suspended, cantilevered out mid-wall, so that you came upon her bobbing feet.  This was a crazy fun piece to make and I delighted in the smiles and shrieks and laughter she received.











The work that followed held onto the materials and became both a broader voice of sensory story from childhood (Fort, but I call it a Hut, and Buzz buzz Buzz) and then into the next steps of taking this material closer to contemporary form (the various forms created like stills from animation of legs in motion - called Leg Spheres.)



Moving Towards

This series of paintings, as seen in the images of this portfolio, have been about accepting and moving towards change. This early work has been grounded in conversations about egg meeting sperm, one's biology meeting another's, and intercourse as the exchange of self, both physically and sexually.  













Much of this grew out of my experiences as an artist during pregnancy and becoming a mother.



Becoming

This body of work, represented in this portfolio of images, speaks to a next phase in this personal transformative conversation about: how do we become who we are? I am curious about recurrent or dominant personal traits (both physical and mental) and how they are exchanged, manipulated, passed on, and even transformed with time. This dialogue is played out in the overlapping of forms and lines much like the overlapping and shadowing of personalities in relationship, or the blending of two people into a child as s/he is conceived and raised. For me automatic drawing is a way to pull some of the more subconscious thoughts and ideas to the surface of my mind and my work.  













After drawing for a month or more in this automatic fashion, I will have a substantial pool of images to begin painting with.  The process is like slowly releasing a flock of birds and watching them move, interact, create patterns, forms and trajectories -- becoming a spatial dance through pairings and networks. From this place of bounty, with the images simply overflowing, I can engage the painting process, discovering more and more from each painting as I uncover and play out various different relational dramas I experience.



The Shape of Breath

I have been practicing yoga for over twelve years now and teaching for yoga for 5; I have become fascinated with the ways yoga postures (asana) and flow (sequences of postures) moves breath through my body. This series of small and mid-sized paintings on paper and wood panels reflect some of what I have learned about moving and restraining breath (pranayama).  My creative process invites a time to visualize about breath in a singular way as well as cumulative breath, meaning breath over the course of time, a day, a situation.  I also visualize or imagine what layers of breath in community or in relationship might look like.











My understanding is that breath and Spirit are one; the meanings of these words are related over time and culture. The nature of breath is life giving, sustaining and healing. Breath modulation, as a practice or discipline, has the power to awaken or invigorate and raise energy or soften and calm us for meditation or listening prayer practices. Breath with intention and focus can begin to build an internal place of strength and surrender; breath can take on structure and form that allows us to go inward.


I began this process of seeking a language or physical notation for breath in 2009 on a week-long silent retreat.  I had received a Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism Artist Fellowship Grant and booked 2 rooms at a meditation center, one room for sleeping and one for painting. I began to open to the "shape" of breath or breathing through a series of drawings.  What developed there was a notation that became or looks like a chain of breaths, a sequence.  The shapes and forms of various breath types became something like an alphabet and I have been using these elements ever since.  


The current paintings begin with pencil drawings and several layers of under-painting.  The layers upon layers begin to set a stage for the relational nature of breath - be it breathing that shifts and changes over a period of time, or more of a conversational breath that happens with yogis in a communal practice, or even groups of people in meditation or listening prayer.


The mid-sized paintings on wood in the series remain in process, still incomplete. These smaller works on paper are the result of the beginning of my listening, opening to and seeing into the nature and practice of pranayama. They have paved the way for me; they have allowed me space to practice digging deeper into ways to describe and reveal the nature of breath as I have come to know it in yoga practice and meditation or listening prayer.

Artist’s Statements