As an artist my work extends out of American folk art and craft traditions, bridging the vernacular with the contemporary in a range of media including drawing, paper collage, sculpture, installation and public projects. In the studio I’ve always been inclined to work by hand and to maintain an intimate connection to materials. Much of what I make is tactile and involves meditative or repetitive processes. I tend to work with a variety of hundreds of very small elements that come together to make a larger piece once assembled.
In 2006 I began a series of collages made of hand-painted papercuts of plants and animals that borrow methodology from pictorial quilts. In making these collages, each foreground element is hand-cut and painted with watercolor and gouache, with the addition of pinpricks and minute hole punched papers adhered one dot at a time to the surface of the paper. The pieces from this series connect to anthropomorphic fables, the natural world, and textile traditions with a lineage of telling symbolic stories and carrying encoded messages. Clouds, storm patterns, constellations, birds, insects, flora and fantastic animals populate these early works in abundance. Many of the pieces from this period are in public hospitals and health centers across the United States.
Recently, I’ve been focused on a body of work that draws from the patterns and iconography of 18th and 19th century American quilts. Many of these pieces are rooted in the same base pattern, the eight-pointed star, and take on a variety of incarnations as drawings, collages, wood wall sculptures and murals. Grounded in craft, this work also upholds the history of quilt-making as a forerunner to the modern and contemporary movements of minimalism, geometric abstraction, Op art and feminist art. Through this series, I’m interested in walking in the footsteps of generations of makers who came before me, extrapolating from a distinctly American art form that has come to symbolize our diversity, our democracy and our equal humanity. Culling from a compendium of patterns and practices that were freely shared amongst everyday people for centuries and transforming this imagery into something entirely new, I’m interested in creating visually mesmerizing work that contributes to broader conversations about the connections between art, labor, democracy, craft and equal access.
Part of the intention of my practice is to form connections between the past and the future, the intimate and the spectacular, generating associations across time and between disciplines of creative activity. The overarching theme of my current work, ALL FOR ONE FOR ALL, refers to both the potential for endless variation within a single pattern and the dynamics of repetition, as well toward a social philosophy that desires more equality in the world at large.