The Nomads series is my most recent and ongoing body of work.
The inspiration for them comes from my journey to see the ancient stone stelae land markers in the Yorkshire moors. These Nomads ressemble a tribe of wanderers with uniquely different appearances and characteristics. They stand confidently alone or in groups and are eager to accompany us on our uniquely personal journeys.
The ongoing “Descendants” series was inspired by the flickering movement of aspen leaves, Alexander Calder’s mobiles, and fabric drying on clothes lines.After working for decades on pieces that use the wall as a support, I became enthralled by the dance-like motion and shifting shadows produced by linked collages, suspended from the ceiling.
These current ceiling-to-floor iterations rotate around their axes. The individual groupings of Descendants communicate a variety of human states, sometimes playful and joyful, sometimes serene and contemplative.
This term refers to persons or things that function outside a main group or system. Outer planets, hermits, and many artists are often referred to as outliers. My Outlier series is a collection of free hanging mixed media orbs within orbs. The idiosyncrasies inherent in each of the works are achieved through a variety of techniques including collage, painting, stitching, dyeing, and laser cutting.
I commenced work on this series the day of the 2017 solar eclipse.
My plan was to use the same format for 30 works. The dimensions of the canvas and the placement of the circle are the constants, and the surface treatments and the character of each piece are the variables. The word portal suggests a gateway into and out of physical spaces or shifting states of mind. Doorways, mirrors, internet sites, cell membranes and black holes, come to mind.
Others see us from our surface, and how we present ourselves to the world. We see ourselves from inside our heads, who we believe ourselves to be.
There is of course a deeper reality that we cannot fathom: how we, during a lifetime, undergo an ongoing transformation—not just in appearance but in our experience of time and events—before we cross the bridge into the matter of the universe.
The Windows have an outer ‘skin’; a flap revealing the back side—what is usually hidden; and the opening, a view into the mystery that atoms decide to take shape, stick around for a while, and disappear.
The first piece in this series was created in 1966 in Paris. I could not afford the paint to create large works on canvas. Walking through a public park, I hit upon the idea of tying small (and free-for-the-taking) twigs onto unprimed canvas. After stitching hundreds of them into long, multiple rows, they began to suggest the French approach to designing with trees. This was my first work in fiber.
I expanded on my original approach in revisiting the format in 2014, using the twigs remaining from Paris — stored for more than 40 years — together with newly harvested twigs from my garden in Kansas City.
Visiting New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art as a child, I was fascinated by its collection of painted Coptic Egyptian mummy portraits. Six decades later, I returned to those lifelike encaustic paintings as inspiration for this series, creating upwards of 200 images and referring to them as “Prophets,” visionaries who see beyond the veil of illusion.
I dance and teach tango, which is completely about connection. In all of my work I feel that there is a dialogue amongst the shapes, either maybe two prominent shapes that have a relationship, or many shapes that are in a sort of dance or connection with one another. Joan Miró was once asked at what point did he become an abstract artist. He answered that he didn’t understand the question, meaning that for him each of the shapes had a very distinct personality and character, not abstract at all. The shapes that I use have for me a life of their own. I could almost speak of their characteristics the way I would of people and pets.
Traveling through India, Burma, Tibet and Haiti, I was captivated by the many vibrant prayer flags created to convey joy, happiness and compassion. A more commonplace sight struck me in Italy and Cuba: lines of laundry stretching from building to building. The color, movement and domestic ritual speak to our shared human experience.
The life force embodied in cloth moving with the wind inspired my Spirit Flag series. I am reminded of a Korean saying: "We cannot direct the wind, but we can control the sails."