SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED
My first acquaintance with Washi , (the thin oriental papers used in this exhibition) was in 2001 on a trip to Japan . These papers that derive from gampi , mitsumata and mulberry plants are repeatedly beaten to render them archival for their use in fine art applications. They are so strong and yet so thin, that they became indispensable to me. I print small sections of various copper plates that already have etchings on them , and then glue these small bits of printed paper to a different matrix and leave almost no discernible line. As an artist who approaches each new project with only the slimmest of formed thought, these papers allowed for frequent aesthetic “reassessments “ since I could remove any piece with just a spray of water and then place it somewhere else, as the spontaneous process unfurled. This was perfect for me as an artist who seldom uses a planned approach. That’s the technique.
My content derives from many sources but the constituency that I prefer to examine is usually the conditions of human existence both past and present. While concentrating mainly on women's issues in this show, the difficulties and triumphs facing all genders, ethnicities and spiritual beliefs are abundant seams for me to mine. From the contemporary to the historical, there seems to be no shortage of opportunities to also study the terrible restrictions that have been placed on specific groups within our human family at various times in history.
The smaller works with thin strips of washi, came about after admiring the basket weaving of aboriginal women across North America as well as the weave of fabric in women's clothing. It became my intention to interpret the situations of disparate groups of women using this weave motif .From Queen Hatshepsut to everywoman, the images represent the frequently overlooked intelligence and perseverance of women in every culture throughout the centuries.
The larger pieces on panels are my most recent works, addressing the same themes but heralding some specific people whose lives resonated in a particular way for me.
"Jeanne d'Arc" is such an interesting example of heroism and eccentricity that I needed to include her. Thought by some to be a witch and by others to be a saint she was indeed a powerful woman at the tender age of eighteen. Burned at the stake for a variety of reasons, chief among them the fact that she wore men's clothes, her life and death provides contemplation on society’s ageless enforcement of strict observation of gender norms.
"Bishop of Her Own Beliefs " bears testimony to the prejudicial treatment of women in many organized religious institutions. It is a call to women to validly take their place in liberalizing cemented mindsets to allow for a gentler, more loving, and less judgemental interaction among people of faith.
"Burled" is an image closely related to "Late Bloomers" . Using dendrochronology or tree science, to illustrate the point, I drew burls around the female faces as a visual synonym for the common stress from overwork that so many women experience . Those bulbous growths of extra rings frequently seen on the exterior of trees derive from a variety of stressors like drought, insect infestation, floods etc and cause the tree to manifest these lumps in response to those stressors. Ironically, burled wood is frequently prized by those who work with wood since its beauty is outstanding in spite of its unfortunate provenance.
"Late Bloomers " is an image that many women can identify with. Since it is common for younger women to postpone for a time, careers and personal objectives in order to raise children. In doing so, they achieve a later bloom, so I wanted to also acknowledge these women who choose that alternative as a viable option to the enormous difficulties of working and parenting simultaneously at an earlier point in their lives.
In “Fallen, Homage to the Women of Highway 16", I address the brutal slayings of Indigenous females whose murders continue to go unsolved. Their fates were horrific enough but the lack of accountability for their murders is an additional heavy burden for their families to bear.
"Mindful of the Minotaur" recalls the myth of Theseus and the dreaded Minotaur of Greek legend. In this case I specifically use the labyrinth, the pattern with one entrance and one exit, associated with mindful contemplation, as opposed to the common maze with its hidden openings and blockades meant to confuse rather than enlighten. The Minotaur referenced in this image, is the negativity, anger and potential for violence that exists within each of us , that requires extraction, instead of any mythical beast external to ourselves. By necessity we must walk our own labyrinth to slay the monsters within us before attempting the eradication of society’s more complex problems.