My artwork often crosses the boundary between sculpture and installation. For the past 5 years I have been making structures out of found branches; forming airy, interlocking lattices and weaving three-dimensional patterns in space to define forms. The branches are bound together with twine and wax, then wrapped or connected with thin, wet pieces of handmade abaca paper. After the paper has dried, beeswax or varnish is often mixed with powdered pigments and worked into the paper to enhance the surface qualities. Internal lighting elements are sometimes included at different stages of the construction, to cast intricate, patterned shadows. Poetic text is occasionally embedded into the surface of the paper, and different materials such as stone, earth, and seedpods are often incorporated to complete the pieces.
I am fascinated with observing and demonstrating the similarities between forms found in the natural world, and in our bodies. My work is figurative, in a very abstract way. Judith Mabee captured the essence of the idea in one of her poems; “Listen to what/ the wood is saying/ the way it splits/ itself into shins/ it repeats the structure/ inside your body/ as if to say/ pay close attention to the world...” This is one reason for my choice of materials; the branches are an undeniably natural, graceful, gestural element, whose shapes and functions within the works are reminiscent of our bones, and simultaneously reference veins and tendons or ligaments. The handmade abaca paper, used in the way I have developed, is somewhat like skin or hide in appearance, but more translucent and elegant, and is in essence made of the same material as the branches, just in a different form. The twine also comes from a natural fiber (cotton) and recalls rawhide, tendons or sinew, (especially when embedded with foundry wax) as it binds the structures together.
I have been exploring themes of pregnancy and germination with most of these recent sculptures: the pieces have titles such as: Chrysalis, Mate, Womb, Expecting, Cradle, Nesting, Seedbed. The materials’ visual and visceral reference to skin, bones and sinew, when considered within the context of their titled subject matter, thematically positions the pieces as explorations into the physical aspect of a woman’s identity. This combination also suggests thematic associations with the concept of “Mother Earth;” drawing connections between the natural environment and the creative power and nurturing comfort of mother. Some of the pieces are related to architectural forms, referencing how the body functions as architecture for an indwelling soul or child. Together, the pieces function as abstract self-portraits, exposing my own instinctive, almost subconscious longing for motherhood. This persistent theme; wherein my sculptures reflect the creative capabilities of the female body, attests to both my ongoing fascination with the symbolism inherent in the processes of birth and holding a child within; and to my interest in the way these procreative experiences are metaphorically linked with making – artistic and creative activity in a broader sense.
I feel that the experience of beauty is vital to the life of the soul. In recognition of this belief, I have chosen to try to manifest and share a sense of beauty and wonder with viewers through my sculpture. My aesthetic sensibility reflects this choice, and parallels a recent phenomenon in the art world; a return to the making of beautiful objects. My pieces have an ephemeral quality; they are inherently quite fragile due to the materials of their construction. As sturdy as I can make them, they don’t have the durable, lasting implacability of more “archival” types of sculpture, such as bronze or ceramics. This quality de-emphasizes the concept of art as commodity, and reasserts its primary purpose; to facilitate an experience for the viewer.