I live in rural Michigan, where my home and studio overlook the woods. Every aspect of this scenery touches my work; the weather, the wildlife, the decay and smells, sounds and forms, colors, light, and constant change. Walking in these woods, I feel a connected to the trees, sounds, and space, as if I weren't separate from the rest of the world at all.
I find the natural world to be both comforting and jarring as I observe how fast and often, sadly and beautifully, life comes and goes. Art-making is my means of being, and of paying tribute to it all.
I was born in California, where I spent my first 45 years. I was a shy child, lonely and wanting, haunted by how small and invisible I felt. My first true insight on how to climb out of this was found on family outings to San Francisco museums. West coast figurative as well as Abstract Expressionist work in the 1950’s and 60’s impressed me greatly, even as a child. I remember how taken I was by a Franz Kline show— the boldness and beauty were deeply moving. It wasn’t that I wanted to be an artist, I wanted to be the work; bold, proud, and beautiful.
Growing up in the Bay Area in the 1960’s, I devoured it all; free speech, flower children, war protests, Be-ins, live music everywhere. It was a rich time, passionate and expressive. In the 1970’s I left Reed College in Portland to attend the San Francisco Art Institute, for lack of a better path. Majoring in ceramic sculpture I got my first serious taste of making art and sank myself into my studio work and the San Francisco art scene. After graduating I moved on to the Los Angeles Woman’s Art Building. Here, immersed in the feminist art movement I received the support and encouragement to be an authentic artist.
My art schooling did not consist of formal training as much as it was full of living, collaborative, interactive performance and conceptual work. In the mid 1980’s I moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area. I was inspired to paint, and with no experience in painting I started a painting journal. It was awkward and fun. I have been painting ever since, and recently have returned to sculpture.
In 1990 I married and later moved to Michigan with my husband and two children. It was a dramatic move - I missed everything California. I have come to appreciate how the landscape one grows up in, the air, the smells and the light become an integral part of one’s being. Now, having lived here for over 20 years, raising children, seeing them off, and recently having accompanied both my parents through their deaths, I have come to so appreciate what this Michigan landscape has given me. The water, light, and sky, endless walks, this place has become woven into me as well.
Art-making has been my means of integrating all the forces of growing up, the external landscapes, as well as the internal landscapes of smallness, fear and loss. I am now able to see the tenderness and loneliness I felt as a child to be more of an opening than a weight. Art-making has always been my voice It has become my means of being.
Playing and expression through materials is as vital to my work as subject and content. I work with anything that will stick to a substrate, sometimes to great disappointment, sometimes to exhalation, almost always with vigor. There is nothing like pulling a cement form out of the mold, or sanding, rubbing, painting down through layers of past efforts and visions, discovering where the material as well as my persistence has taken me. The materials I use, their inherent physicality and stories, literally form the backbone of my art-making.
I work a surface quite a bit before I apply paint, often to the point where I feel as if I am painting on a living thing. Grounds can be heavily textured with clay, plaster, acrylic mediums and thick paint and cement. Acrylics are my primary medium, with the addition of inks, oils, stains, and glues which are layered, glazed, sanded often many times over.
My cement houses, altars and spheres are created by pressing different mixtures of cement into molds, or, as with the spheres, patted into shape with my hands. Cement is a forgiving and luscious material. I love it's weight it's earthy chunkiness as well as it's sleek edges and polished surfaces. I also incorporate anything that catches my attention, from sticks to bones to coffee grounds, swamp mud, and plants into the mix