My work is about exploring my relationship to my ancestors, particularly the resourceful homesteading women in my family who created visually rich, artistic lives for themselves through their domestic practice. None of these desperately poor women would have called themselves artists but their drive to make functional and mundane objects beautiful is inspirational to me. My work deals with pattern, texture, handiwork and found objects to explore my unique perspective on heritage and how it affects my artistic point of view.
There are two underlying ideas that concern my work. The first is filiation and the ways things are related to one another. This is important to me because I recognize that all of my thoughts and ideas are tinted in some way by those who have gone before me and will come after me. The images I create are one way of participating in this generational push and pull. The second idea is the depression-era habit of conservation. This is a notion that has deeply affected my familial psyche and I’m fascinated by the fact that it was born from such a negative place but has lead to consistent renewal through innovation, desire, wanting and hope.
Pattern is my primary subject matter and I borrow heavily from quilting techniques for structure. Some preoccupations of mine are working out the logical extension of a pattern in a contemporary climate and knowing where the pattern descended from. I also manipulate crochet and tatting, fabrics, dress patterns, and embroidery handed down from my great grandmothers, grandmothers and mother, sometimes using them as tools, sometimes incorporating them directly into the work. Utensils and other household items play symbolic roles in my paintings because of their use in helping and hindering, embellishing and encumbering one another.
My work takes the form of painted canvases that might be pieced together and assembled with found objects, fabric, and stitching. I often paint smaller canvases and work in a mind-set of “not knowing” until commonalities emerge in pieces that can be structured together.
My paintings are influenced by my thoughts on being a modern American woman who loves to sew, to cook, to hold babies, but who also rages against being relegated to sewing, cooking, and holding babies through societal expectations. My images mix my love of domesticity, home, and hearth with my fierce determination to live life on my own terms.