Describe your work for us.
My work explores the transformative possibilities of feminist materials. Commodities created for and produced by women are translated into storied abstract paintings and sculptures.
Connecting generations of women, my production methods assert value on female experiences, rites of passage, and question traditional gender roles. Each work fuses archetypal female figures, from literature or cultural traditions, with specific atmospheres and landscapes.
Tell us about your process.
I start with a question, experience or idea about a female character or chapter of womanhood. The subject is partnered with an environmental state, contrasting relationship and/or destructive agent.
I develop my compositions through writing, experiments and bad drawings. Then I start collecting relevant materials and building small piles of scraps in the studio. These collections help me to create a palette and coherent context to work from. I re-work the drawings and make collages and studies for future works.
Foundations are built and materials get prepared. Sometimes I braid and weave bedsheets into alternative canvases. Sometimes I mend and tie dye old quilts. There are long days of sewing layers of ribbon. There are days when I am in a fury of problem solving and creativity.
From where do you draw inspiration?
I draw inspiration from the female experience. I have invented alterative endings for women in literature, like Eve and Ophelia. I have partnered heartache with storm systems and motherhood with burn piles. Recently, I have been learning stories and insights from different generations of women in my community. In 2017, I created a body of work based on the wisdoms/heirlooms of female elders. This year I am leading workshops with tween girls to celebrate their hopes and dreams.
How did you develop an interest in working with fabric?
In 2010, I wanted to connect my 3D mixed media practice with my background in painting. I aspired to “paint” with unconventional materials. My first fabric painting was made after I visualized what it would look like to lite a wedding cake on fire and throw it against the wall. Quilts, clothes and ribbon enrich the conceptual and visual possibilities of my ideas. I am very stimulated by the malleability of domestic textiles.
From where do you source your fabrics?
I try to up-cycle as much as possible. I inherit and adopt a lot of materials people don’t want or don’t know what to do with. I buy a lot of damaged quilts on EBay. I love re-directing damaged, or in some cases doomed, pieces that were created by women from a different times and places. The handcrafted object assumes a new destiny and a connection/collaboration is created between generations of female artisans.
Do you work exclusively in textiles?
No. I have also created sculptures with raw materials produced by women. For example, Siren Swing, 2017, has the sweat and tears from 22 ovulating women incorporated in it.
The works, even the small ones, look substantial. Are they heavy? Is their perceived weight part of the symbolism?
Some are quite heavy, and some are lighter than they appear. Overall, I like it when the material deceives the eye and takes on a new identity. Decorative and youthful ribbon can have a dark side. Large scale “paintings” can be folded.
What feminine stereotypes are you challenging?
I like to reveal the underbelly of the female archetype. I want to tell the truth about my experience and explore how it varies from expectations. It has been wonderful to work with tween and elderly women in my community and learn about the misconceptions and exceptions in their developmental chapters.
How has your practice evolved?
I am trying to speak with as few elements as possible. I am pushing myself to edit the information down to the bare essentials. It is easier to fill a space with visual information, than to strip it down. I am trying to say more with less.