I have a deep and profound obsession with the natural world. From insects and birds and humans, to botanicals and root systems, weather patterns and migrations, and the effects of systems upon each other, I spend countless hours imagining these as visual symbols layered on top of each other in my paintings. The layering of a cacophony of imagery visualizes the overwhelmed state of the contemporary human experience and the ever increasing inundation of environmental change. This experience of being human in context with our surroundings is most frequently thought of as a binary: good versus evil, healthy versus diseased, bountiful versus unsustainable. This binary perspective has influenced my two bodies of work, Human Ecology and Cyclones. I have created two separate bodies of work, although there is much connecting them in content and intention. In the process of painting, I am searching for balance between these binary constructs in order to find mindful middle ground that can sustain both the bountiful and destructive nature of our humanity.
Each of the three main themes of my work focuses on wellness, balance, equality, strength and power. The subject and symbology shift but the underlying themes are ever present. I use hybridized botanical shapes to visualize the interactions of nature and the human condition, which is often referred to as Human Ecology or the Gaea Principle. Human ecology is an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary study of the relationship between humans and their natural, social, and built environments. The semi-abstracted botanical symbology in the Human Ecology paintings represents a kind of figuration of our balance within our environment; human ecology is fragile yet indomitable, often referred to as ecological resilience, and it has a remarkable way of thriving within a deeply visual display especially as nature grows and thrives. Everything is interrelated and the intersectional aspect of human action—or inaction—has a profound, if not devastating, effect on the global ecosystem. Action by one group of individuals affects small ecosystems which then proceeds to affect other, often larger ecosystems as the natural world seeks to find balance and homeostasis. In these works, I portray the beauty of the balanced nature of our place within the planetary ecosystem without destruction and overflowing with resiliency, bounty and thriving overgrowth.
In the Cyclone paintings, I represent more of the destructive forces of nature. The series began as a personal reference regarding health, healing and resiliency and moved into a larger examination of the forces of storms and the cyclical nature of destructive forces both on a small scale of the individual and on the larger scale of environmental change like the monumental shifts occurring as a result of global warming. The Cyclone paintings began as destructive references, but I soon inserted the ideas of homeostasis in the series as well. I am in a constant search to find balance in my work and in life.
I began referencing ideas of auspiciousness several years ago when I placed literal symbolic references of the eight symbols of Tibetan Buddhism into my encaustic paintings. I have since withdrawn from the literal visual translations of the philosophies behind these symbols and now, with more subtlety, convey and portray ideas of benevolence, balance, restitution and spiritual prosperity in my layers of paint, collage and graphite.
My work has become a process of making marks, and then correcting those marks, always adding and fixing. The process of creation itself becomes symbolic of seeking balance within an inter-sectional human ecology. Homeostasis then becomes the scientific and the spiritual. In the Cyclone paintings, I use this finding and obfuscation to allow the process to become the search for balance between destruction and reconstruction.
In the figurative work, I am focusing on the visceral condition of being human—repetitive cycles of health and wellness; topics regarding injury and trauma; feminist concerns of global violence against women; the politics of race, gender, and equality; ideas about the history of women in art, how we have been represented and portrayed, and how we form a historical sisterhood that is stronger together—all of these facets inform my figurative work.
I work with many different materials and have always had a great understanding and visceral reaction to the ability for any tool or mark-making substance to emphasize my emotive connection with my work. I have always had an experimental nature in my work with my materials, which have included: wax/encaustic, oil, acrylic, body casting/molding, ceramic sculpture, rope, unfired clay, coffee, dry drawing materials, latex, wire, roofing paper, wood, botanical/natural plant material, rice, and found objects/collage. Currently, I focus on the process of collage to mirror the content of fragmentation and dissociation inherent in my work. Collaged torn and hand-cut paper is layered onto a surface, sometimes numbering nearly 100 layers of paper.
The process, the content, the theoretical and the material all combine to form both the Human Ecology and the Cyclone works. They have the initial impression of aesthetic difference, but the content and drive behind the bodies of work are both from the same impulse: to find balance and homeostasis within our lives as humans and our relationship with our natural surroundings.