I create and teach drawing, painting and sculpture.
The theme of the oppressed, confined life reflects the concerns of my high school students as well as mirror issues in my life. We all seem to struggle with two persistent questions, “How does that which confines/oppresses also provide protection and security?” and “To what extent do we create and add to our own sense of confinement?” These paradoxes exist for all humans; and are often in high relief for adolescents and those identifying as women..
Scale is important in my work; increasing and decreasing the size of the figure relative to the methods of confinement, I explore the concept of creating a “cage” inside of a figure. In my most recent series, Time to Eat, I dig into personal symbolism, childhood narratives around restricted eating and gendered body norms; searching for a way to depict the push and pull of love, fear and food. Struggling with a binge-eating disorder for most of my teen and adult life, I strive to shine light on a topic that is both personal and global. The imagery of a corset is repeated in much of my work; reflecting the rigid roles that women have had defined for them; both in terms of social acceptance and physical “beauty.” Building on the concept of confinement and cages, often of our own making, ceramic, metal and plastic corsets are lovely and compelling on the outside and compressed, uncomfortable, sharp and dangerous on the inside. Stories from my childhood revolving around points in time when I was shamed for my body as I bumped up against cultural expectations of femininity and masculinity, weave through my work figuratively and literally.
I find myself continually going back to the paradox that lives in us all: In what way do we create the shackles and cages that bind us and keep us from being our full selves? Why do we not escape if we hold the key? It is through my work with children in crisis that I find clarity in my own life and my artwork. As I help them see the boundaries in their worlds and help them find ways to work their way out – often through their own art – I find I can begin to see the outlines of the fear-based cages I have built for myself. It is through creating artwork that I notice that I, too, can find my way forward as an artist, a teacher and a fragile, determined human being.