I create exaggerated figures in impossible landscapes. My work explores impending environmental catastrophe and the impact of Christianity on modern perceptions of the female body, sexuality and our relationship with nature. My paintings and drawings portray a gravity-less dystopia with disjointed figures that could be planets or cellular masses floating through an amorphous landscape.
In my latest paintings I use oil, wax and other materials such as found plastic to revisit my previous work “Rise of the Soul” based on so-called “Gnostic” perceptions of ascension. I delve into how these ancient “heretical texts” might have informed the modern psyche, particularly representation of the Divine as feminine, had they not been excluded from the canon. In this moment of #MeToo, I am emboldened that my work in excavating a history of pictures and ideas unfair to women and girls may at last gain footing.
In my performance series RISE, performed so far in Zuccotti Park, Central Park, NYC and on a remote beach in Cornwall, U.K., I create shadows projected on a scrim-like drawing surface using my own body, found objects, painted line and color to create a dialogue with the water. This site-specific piece is a tangible conversation with the sea and rising tide, not as static backdrop but as active participant.
RISE signifies both rising waters and rising up; a lifting out of this world, or an awakening from codified, misguided and destructive beliefs. My last performance series WORLD WITHOUT A HEAD is a sci-fi thought experiment that explores the evolution of creatures whose biology would have adapted within the ruins of an apocalyptic future. RISE however, is a call to action. Rising sea levels are a bellwether for a looming global crisis. RISE, beckons the viewer to a PLACE, to the waters edge, to rise up and meet the challenge.
From the dawn of humankind, we have been searching for ways to describe how we came into being. It is why, through painting, drawing, sculpture and performance, I play with different evolutionary and religious scenarios. In dreams we can fly over mountains or be consumed for hours within ocean currents. In my work, I speculate how we arrived at this point in our evolution. What cosmic events might have altered our biology? Why can't we fly? Why can't we breathe underwater? My images often show a distortion of human, animal and plant form. They are a cross section of internal gone external tree limbs; organs that reference both human anatomy and winter tubers.
This amalgamation of creatures; birdy beaky insects, breasts, bellies, feet, genitals, suggest that evolution is a moving, branchy promiscuous bush. My "tree-planets" show this moving tree that we are attached to and shaped by; and in turn, how it is shaped by rising tides, changing climactic conditions and the sheer inundation of modern technology. I Incorporate garbage into my images and live performance: plastic bags, bottles, lids, sixpack rings, containers; questioning the constant stream of waste that we pile higher as technology and populations soar -- and how this "trash" is going to change us and our environment permanently.
I have worked with choreographers, dancers, musicians, composers and scholars to create paintings and performances that address our individual “creation myths”; to describe how we sometimes, quite inexplicably, see ourselves as separate from and reigning over the natural world. In painting and drawing, I work in a mixture of media: water color, pastel, ink, oil and most recently, encaustic.
I often etch directly into my paintings' surface panels in order to find a dimensional, incised line. While my art education is rooted in a figurative academic tradition, my obsession with line has been largely influenced by having drawn caricatures for many years in order to support myself as an artist. The carnival illustration background brings cartoon, humor and fluidity of fast paced drawing into my art making practice. This quick fire drawing is incorporated in my performance, where I draw live for an audience behind a large back-lit scrim showing how drawing is not just a final, static fixed image but a moving, changing process.
In earlier work, I explore the nature of Creation and the beginning of the world from a Judeo-Christian standpoint. For several years, I worked directly with Biblical scholars, Elaine Pagels and Annette Yoshiko Reed to explore the diversity of early Christianity and how the religion became what we know today, primarily focusing on the so-called "Gnostic" texts discovered in Nag Hammadi, Egypt in 1945. The Nag Hammadi Library, thought to be distributed within early Christian circles, show a feminine depiction of the divine, a form of transcendence that is both personal and intuitive and narratives that integrate sexual symbolism directly into the story line of Creation. I made a series of images that show a different set of depictions from those seen in the standard Christian pictorial tradition. The Nag Hammadi corpus has also been a springboard to create works, a series of drawing and paintings, such as my Rise of the Soul and Imperishability series, that explore the nature of transcendence.
Since the birth of my daughter in 2011, and from the time my two step-daughters came into my life several years earlier, I find myself looking at these stories of Creation in a new light. For a child, fantasy and imagined worlds feature uniquely larger than real life. Navigating between these worlds, while tricky and slightly confusing as a parent, is eye-opening, and as an artist is most certainly a spring board into new work.