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For the last 25 years I have produced work using various media, such as cloth, thread, clay, handmade paper, wax, wire, acrylic paint and bronze. Although largely abstract, this work contains a range of allusions to the body, nature, and personal memory.
In many recent sewn works, a specific memory underlies each piece, and partially determines its particular character and color. These are memories of things that I have observed and then held in my mind's eye, sometimes for decades: they are the subtext of the work. Attempting to conjure a mental image into a physical object is an elusive process due to the fugitive, constantly shifting nature of memory.
Memories are only points of departure. It is the physical process of making the work that takes over, and has a life of its own. A work in progress could evolve for months, (even years); expanding, contracting, even recombining with cast off parts of itself. My objective is to stay in the moment, mindful of accident and chance,responding to what unfolds. The actual working with materials, and how that results in particulars of form and configuration, is what ultimately determines each piece.
While I have used sewing intermittently over the years, since the mid-1990s all my work has been constructed by hand sewing together many, sometimes hundreds of either flat rectangular units or hollow vessel-like elements to create larger configurations. These components are formed from layers of cloth (or cloth and paper) that have been laminated and stiffened with acrylic paints and mediums. The tension and puckering created by sewing the individual components results in structures that billow as if animated from within. These undulations are a chance product of the sewing process. My responses to such unplanned effects plot the trajectory of each piece. There is no understructure. These pieces are held together with thread alone. Seams define contours, and stitches create lines, marks, and surface.
Much is layered in this work. Early on I worked intensively in ceramics, a medium where form, color and surface are inseparable. As a child, I was exposed to elaborate embroideries made by various female relatives, including my grandmother. Seeing these textiles prompted a desire to draw with thread, thereby creating form and line by amassing stitches. I was captivated how a single gesture (a stitch), when repeated, can become something complex, elusive and rich with expressive nuance. This led me to a life-long interest in all things created by accretion, from Byzantine mosaics to votive accumulations to multi-cellular organisms. This interest has been a touchstone, and has affected my work and sensibility over the years in various ways.
"The most important reading finds the artist's desire for extendibility- the sense that any given work could continue the gesture of its making, that the composition could extend indefinitely into space, that the light might continue and spread."
-By Stephen Westfall, excerpted from a brochure essay accompanying 2007 exhibition at Elizabeth Harris Gallery.
"In her need to find a voice for the silent workings of nature, its slow movement across time, the artist has authored a process rather than a completion of form. Her ever-growing configuration begins small but ends up by being large, in all the meanings of the adjective."
-By Jonathan Goodman, excerpted from a catalogue essay accompanying a 2003 exhibition at the Elizabeth Harris Gallery.