I have been on this journey called ART for many years, decades, really. It didn’t come easy for me, not a gentle call. It was more like being washed up on a beach, and ART picked me up, shook me out and set me on my path. It may sound extreme to say that art saved my life, but that is how I see it. For the last twenty years, I have created mixed media figures as my art form. Mixed media is a great, no rules approach to art making. It allows me the freedom to use what I have at hand, what I find, what I love. Mostly I love clay and fiber. Each material has its special qualities: forgiving and transforming.
My work has a sense of place and reflects my values. As an urban person, living in the inner city of Minneapolis, I find rusted metal and flatten bottle caps on my walk through my neighborhood. Born and raised here in Minnesota, I have a Midwest sense of practicality and thrift. As a feminist, my figures all begin as female, reflecting the strength and complexity of the feminine. I am reclaiming and transforming the doll tradition, which was such a large part of my girlhood upbringing.
I value a humble and simple life. I value nature and the earth’s resources, so my work incorporates recycled and found materials. I believe in the trasnformative nature of beauty.
My work is healing both for me to make, and as people tell me, for others to see. I show and sell my work at art fairs, primarily in the Midwest. Over and over again, people come into my booth and see my figures hanging on the wall, made of all of those humble and familiar materials, with those little clay faces holding a smile. so the people smile back. When people say to me: “I just love your dolls.” I say to them, “They love you back.” It is another joyous and amazing circle of life.
Thoughts on my process and intention
mud · rags · sticks · stuffs
I celebrate these raw and humble materials in creating mixed media figures. In my process, materials are the guide and source of inspiration. Mixing the media is about letting the materials speak and express their unique aspects. The challenge is bringing them together to form a whole, yet allowing each material its own integrity.
mud · clay · earth · ground
It is with this sensual, pliable and forgiving material that I begin my process – the mythical stuff of our making. Head, hands, feet are formed – and then transformed through fire.
rags · fabric · cloth · material
After clay parts are complete, I imagine the body. In the tradition of “doll” that I claim as a powerful icon of my girlhood, I use fabric. Cloth carries familiarity and comfort. Constantly touching us in our daily lives, our clothing is a second skin. My figures with frayed edges, loose threads, tracks of stitches, show the trace of making by hand; to honor the beautiful imperfection of humanness.
sticks · tree · branch · twig
Since I began making figures more than 20 years ago, I have always included some aspect of tree. Attached to the figure, they are symbols of strength and growth. Sometimes, entire figures are sticks – with fabric, wrapped and knotted, holding them together. It is my praise song to nature. I add other materials as found, as needed. I appreciate the rich meaning and beauty in a smooth rock, a plum pit, a seed pod, or driftwood bleached by sun and water
That is everything else, lost and found. It is rusty metal that is found on the street, or buttons and zippers found in drawers. It is puzzle pieces or keys that not longer fit; bottle caps that have served their purpose. It is old nails and jingle bells. It is the stuff of our lives – that find new life in these humble beings.
My intention is to communicate and inspire. Using materials as metaphor; I share my celebration of the beauty of nature, faith in possibility and the sacred quality of daily life…