I've always written stories. Recently, I've taken my narratives to my studio and have begun visualizing my chronicles on paper and canvas. A cornucopia of stories and paintings and drawings live in the shadows of Bald Mountain. The Beautiful Grotesque is one of many characaters residing in the shadows of both Bald Mountain and my imagination, from a short story titled, "The Affair on Bald Mountain”. Here is a passage about the Beautiful Grotesque: “Beware the Beautiful Grotesque! She breeds inquiry, absurdity, envy and confusion. This nipple-sighted soul with potent citrus-scented genitalia and striped socks restlessly wanders the hillsides projecting a tabular rasa onto even the most prolific minds of Bald Mountain's looming creatures.”
They Bite Because They Are Alive
Like a caged animal or a starving newborn, sometimes we bite to feel human, to nurture ourselves, to protect, or in an uncontrollable craze. As a painter, my bite is released in my aggressive and textural marks. As a mother and observer, I often paint witnessed moments and react to interpretative narratives of my children. There is no better subject than the child, as his or her animal and cage are in primal maturity, transparent yet intrinsically developing. I became one with my animal within while painting my children and relatives in these states of primal transparency. My series They Bite Because They Are Alive speaks to these observations. These paintings seek out details in the patterns and cycles of empirical and theoretical life experiences. The images are ominous reminders of our own vulnerability.
Deer Diary & Sleep Marks
Anthropomorphizing taxidermy helps me visually describe the duality of the cage like mask of the human experience in its primal maturity, transparent yet intrinsically developing. Like an animal head mounted and hung on a wall, my images are ominous reminders of our own vulnerability.
Notes on Sleep Marks in relation to Deer Diary: The mother in me frequently battles the artist in me, which has become a personal labor. Studio time usual comes after one of the many nights of internal conflict: I should have kissed them good night, read them another book, relaxed with them, been more patient, hugged them after school, answered their questions differently, paid more attention to them…I leave my studio only to find them already involved with their dream life. I stand in the doorway like a deer in headlights and yet an involuntary smile helps disguise and comfort my maternal regret--there is nothing like a sleeping child. I avoid collision. I’ll be an artist tonight and a mother tomorrow.
The silent roars of “existence meeting motherhood” have been hard to deny. The “jocular macabre” within all my work reveals the primal qualities of the human condition and the absurd, precarious relationship formed with our animal instinct.
CROSSING THE LINES
Artist Max McMichaels happens to be my 9 year old son. He spends so much time in my studio drawing that a few months ago I started giving him canvas to draw on. I could not help but see the potential in collaborating with him and his work. I have been painting his drawings and manipulating them, some more than others, with the challenge of maintaining his drawings' compositional sense and whimsical qualities, but also painting them to represent my painting style--a true collaboration.
I believe that all children are artists until they are somehow told that they are not. Although this project came quite organically I have always felt it important to elevate our children's art so that their creativity isn't stifled and am thrilled to have found an opportunity, which speaks to feminism by colliding my worlds as both a working artist and a mother. More kids would continue drawing if they weren't so embarrassed by what they feel inclined to represent, be that “private parts” or more socially accepted themes like monsters, dolls, skateboards, clowns and violins…all narratives within this body of work.
CROSSING THE LINES can be interpreted in several contexts. What society deems inappropriate is often considered “crossing the lines.” I am literally crossing Max's lines and manipulating parts of his drawings. The act of collaborating with a child at a professional level in the art world today might be considered “crossing the lines.” The action of drawing outside of the lines in a coloring book...
Here are his original drawings next to the completed painting:
AWOACA (A Woman Of A Certain Age), is my most recent painting series. This series takes me outside my own domesticated habitat of observation. My subjects are women over the age of 65. They sit for me nude while I listen and record their life experiences and stories. I use color and texture to compose them with slight elongations or deformities that relate to their tone and narrative. Once complete, I plan to exhibit the paintings with these recorded voices overlapping as an audio installation. Perhaps my own fear, uncertainty and/or expectations of inevitably aging in America’s pitifully image-obsessed culture lead me in this direction. Though confirming my theories within the framework of the human condition, the animal within, and the cages we inhabit, this series has already posed new questions relating to age, time and gender issues, forcing me to question my own intentions. These women claim that their animal ceases to claw at their every thought. Does time release us from our cages? Could life experience be the ultimate animal tamer or do we just become masters of disguise? Why doesn’t the richness of the female experience, age and time beautify America’s media-derived sense of “ugly”? These paintings now aim to capture the unappreciated beauty in what society has deemed “ugly.”