Full Artist's statement
Animals play a role in my creative process, both as a form of symbolism in the artwork--as in the portrayal of insects--and as a healing presence to which I pay homage by using cat whiskers as a tool for painting.
My photolithographs and altered photographs highlight insects and the protection provided by the exoskeleton as a metaphor for the resilience needed when people interact with their natural and social environments. This theme is derived from my background in clinical social work where I have provided treatment to children and families facing challenges related to abuse. Given that insects often repel people, I incorporate bright colors into my artwork to attract viewers to the subject, eliciting ambivalence and prompting the viewer to reflect upon his or her own role in interpersonal relationships.
My abstract acrylic paintings are created with brush strokes and stamping techniques using a single cat whisker or horsehair as an alternative to a commercial paintbrush. These whisker paintings are a healing process for me in more ways than one. At a time when I was feeling especially challenged by demands in my social work career, I adopted my cat Bluebell as a way to reroute the imposing energy to which I was exposed in the office. Bluebell’s gentle nature regenerated my empathy and creativity. Over time, I collected Bluebell’s naturally shed whiskers, waiting for the perfect use for them. I now create these whisker paintings, which I experience as a meditative, therapeutic process. The delicate lines intersect, forming a small chaotic scene in segments of the paper. But stepping back, looking at the larger picture, the chaos settles and forms imagery of cohesion. This serves as a metaphor for navigating life’s challenges and chaotic moments, literally and figuratively “keeping things in perspective.” The texture and pattern of the paint strokes mimic those of the visible fibers in handmade paper, lending an ephemeral quality to the works that ground my feelings of overwhelm.
Equally therapeutic for me is the pastime of horseback riding, and I pay homage to these healing creatures by using horsehair in the meditative painting process. The strokes of the horsehair paintings vary from the chaotic lines of the cat whisker paintings. The horsehair creates more uniform lines like threads in woven textiles. This sense of weaving speaks to the interconnectedness of life’s highs and lows and the mutually caring relationships between humans and animals that carry us through life’s challenges.