My work is influenced by the colors and textures of the sage steppe landscape and towering basalt stones that surround the Yakima Valley. The gesture and vertical orientation of the stones evoke thoughts of both witness and guardian figures. Their stoic vigilance reminds me of the ancient sculptures of female figures, their arms tight to their sides or behind them, their meaning obscure but compelling. These references are present in the human forms I integrate with landscape and architectural imagery. The images are often morphed between the more structured shapes of architecture and the organic characteristics of the landscape where the stones “live.”
I want the figures to project interior rather than exterior characteristics, their humanness. I keep their female gender only vaguely described. Attributes of character such as strength and resolution are salient rather than the softness and vulnerability historically portrayed by artists more concerned with women’s sexuality and fecundity. Symbols of confinement such as bricks, wire grids and carousel poles are indicators of the barriers frequently experienced during a lifetime. I juxtapose these with the organic textures of landscape to invoke connection to nature and emotion, qualities often attributed to women but seldom connected to ideas of strength or valor. Stone is a frequent symbol of endurance and invulnerability but I find it is most beautiful when it has been cut or eroded by natural forces of wind, water and fire.
The idea of landscape as a living entity expressed by the philosopher and poet, John O’Donahue in one of his first publications, “Stone as the Tabernacle of Memory,” resonates deeply with me. In that meditation he reminds us, “clay is stone ground fine by the forces of nature.” For me, clay provides a compelling medium. The process of working is sensual, intuitive and meditative. Oil paint provides a complementary counterpoint. My process with paint is more about seeking, spontaneity and embracing change. Each medium stimulates a unique connection between my memory and my imagination. Between us a continually evolving conversation has developed that guides me as I seek to understand myself and the world in which I live.