I am interested in beauty, but I mistrust it. Instead, I look for beauty that exists in the tension between nature and artifice, the awe of visual spectacle, and humanity’s desire to bridle nature and time.
As a child, I often fantasized about nature, and my determination of it – at least in my mind – fulfilled a sense of control that I lacked in life. As an adult, I find myself returning to these concerns and using them as the subject of my artwork, while considering their larger symbolic relevance, both personally and societally. Here, history preoccupies me in small and grand terms. My interest in time has been a consistent subtext of the natural forms I select – the formation of rocks and minerals, coral reefs, the rings of trees — all mark time.
In recent years, I have worked almost exclusively with brightly colored resin, in bodies of work that can be categorized as plant, sea, and rock forms. Flowers interest me because of their transient nature, their association with memorials, and their potential as vehicles for riotous color, as I assemble them into wall installations composed of hundreds of pieces. Tree forms manifest as logs, cross sections or sticks. When a massive backyard tree was cut down at my childhood home, I became intrigued by the trunk, and the wavering network of rings that recorded the rainfall and hardships of every year. I realized this tree also told my simultaneous story, and with its demise, I had lost a witness. Sculptures of grasses act as stand-ins for human longing. Coral forms draw upon themes of continuance, as they refer to reefs that are thousands of years old. Finally, freestanding sculptures inspired by rock structures are created with multiple parts of cast, assembled and carved resin. My goal is for them is to seem preposterous and wondrous, to underscore that nothing is more perplexing, complex, and extraordinary than nature.
By contrast, my works on paper are usually devoid of color. A recent series of portraits originated as steel-cut engravings from the Victorian era. The original prints were highly stylized with prescribed textures of dots, dashes, and cross-hatching to render the picture with striking realism. In my hands, they are enlarged, cropped and made more dramatic. Contemplating these elaborately wrought images compelled me to deeply consider both the printmaker and subject, once so current and timely, now passed into obscurity. My meditations on these objects is physically evidenced through the complex patterns of holes I remove from the surface, as I consider both history’s imperfect rendering of the past and its willfulness to recede, while appreciating the irony that as I renew a dialogue with these antiquated images, time is working to erase me, too.