You just finished your solo exhibition at Corey Helford Gallery entitled “Dehydrated Rainbow”. I find the title of the show fascinating. Does it represent your artistic vision for your new series where you contrast a world of whimsical fantasy with darker truths?
I think the title is fitting because of the contrast between the vibrant colors in the dreamscapes and the black and white figures that inhabit them. The figures are devoid of color to suggest that these narratives are the magical and fantastical worlds that we can create within our own minds if given the opportunity to seek inspiration inwardly rather than from the outside world.
Where did your inspiration for your new series stem from? Did your new works develop from a personal place? Did you learn any “darker truths” about yourself along the way?
In creating this series, I allowed myself to remember thought processes that I had as a child when everything was more mysterious, unlimited, and often frightening. During my childhood, there was quite a lot of time for creative and unstructured play. As a mother to school-aged children, it became very clear to me that the structure of my kid’s lives didn’t allow for nearly as much time for quiet self-reflection. I think that it is during these quiet, unburdened and unplugged moments that magical and creative things happen.
While working on this series I realized how challenging it was for me to unplug myself from my own rigorously structured life. It’s certainly a work in progress for both my children and me.
Repeated throughout much of your work is a teacup, reminiscent of the Walt Disney Mad Hatter Teacups ride. How did this idea develop and what significance does it have to your new body of work?
I specifically use the image of the Mad Hatter teacup ride for a variety of reasons. Firstly, I love that it’s such an iconic image and so easily recognizable. I think that having an iconic image helps people connect with the work on a personal level. Secondly, the ride can be simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying and these are the opposing emotions that I try to convey within the narratives of my paintings. Lastly, I use the Mad Hatter tea cup imagery because of its relationship to the story of Alice in Wonderland. The Alice in Wonderland tale weaves in elements of childlike innocence with darker undertones. This resonates conceptually with my work in which more somber narratives are revealed within a backdrop of hyper-saturated colors and playful imagery.
Throughout much of your work you touch on themes surrounding the change technology has brought into our modern world, where children no longer seem to understand the meaning of “true play”. What are your feelings about this digital revolution we are in the midst of?
I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, my work has certainly benefited from the wealth of information and imagery that can be sourced so easily on the internet. But I also think that the ever-presence of technology causes new generations of young people to have no sense of that perfect boredom that stimulates a growing mind to create new ways to play, to work and to find inspiration. As a result, we risk raising generations of people who have no idea about the power of the creative process to solve problems, find beauty in the world around us, or relate to others in an engaging, constructive, and deeply meaningful way.
You formally trained in the arts, receiving your BFA from the University of Michigan. After almost twenty years on your creative journey how have you seen a transformation in your work?
There has been a huge transformation in my work over the years, but the development has been methodical and purposeful, even if it’s hard for others to see. I had a professor at the University of Michigan who taught a class in which we were required to take one element from a previous project and use it to create a concept for the next piece. It was incredibly open ended and could be as simple as carrying over a material used, an image or a concept…anything that would bridge one piece of artwork to the next. I would say that I still use this methodology with my art making after all of these years. I typically progress from one series to the next by retaining an element that I’m interested in exploring further and pairing it with new and unique ideas. Over the years some series have been visual explorations while other series have had more overt social themes. I think that right now the work is the most personal that it’s ever been.
What’s next for you after your solo exhibition ended on August 12? Do you typically take time to let the experience settle in or are you headed right back into work?
I think it’s very important for me to take some time off after completing a body of work. I often spend a full year or two working on a series. Because I am very concept driven, the time away from the studio to formulate new ideas is as equally important as time spent working in the studio.