Roots and Wings
As departing geese cry mournful farewells, I plant tulip bulbs a spade deep in the loose, sandy earth, a promise of spring. In places, the tangled overhand of dying perennials prohibits getting close enough: tansy with its pungent, faintly repugnant smell, yellow pompons melting into brown, wiry stems and needle thin leaves…
As an artist, I engage with many mediums to explore ideas, often combining them in unusual ways. My writing and artwork usually center around two threads. One is the experiences between individually embodied life and social knowledge, the personal within the historical, using individual lived experience as the vehicle for connection. The other is perhaps less academic but not less political. It follows my love of flora and fauna, and the beauty, but also the fragility, of the world around us.
About My Work
I work both as a writer and a visual artist. I begin any piece with exposure to a multitude of visual, auditory, sensory, and often historical or topical prompts and primary sources to serve as springboards for imaginative exploration. My favorite style of writing is creative non-fiction, a style that marries truth, memoir, and reflection with lyric elements. This combination allows the storyteller and reader to connect on an emotional level, perhaps revealing a truth that is universal, even in relating a very singular experience. I have written about remembrance, history and loss in micro and macro contexts. What I became aware of during the process of putting work together is that when there is too didactic a message, it does not allow for the exploration of ambiguities or missing pieces. Instead, when people read my work, or view my art, I would like them to have an emotional response, an epiphany, or a sense of identification, as well as an appreciation of the content and the context into which it is presented. I try to find ways to personalize the experience of something large into something manageable, connecting the literal with the lyric, the affect with the intellect. I like to include a variety of writing and approaches, and to be open to possibilities. To do this I often use collages, vignettes, poetry, and, frequently, visuals, as part of my writing, and textual elements in my painted and glass visual work. Using real history, events, and experiences as springboards for imaginative exploration takes the facts and makes them accessible, and hopefully more resonant.
When I create visual art, I work in either watercolour or various forms of glass – fused, stained, and mosaic –frequently combining mixed media and photo-transfer elements. In both mediums, light and transparency are key. I am fascinated by the way these mediums can carry literal and metaphoric weight in their ability to be transparent, translucent, or opaque, allowing us to consider what we can see through, see beyond to, or not see what is obscured. These themes were highlighted in several solo shows about my adoptive experience, including the award-winning Family Tree, containing photos and ephemera rendered in fused glass documenting my lost connections to family. A short time ago, I completed a tetraptych of the four elements of earth, air, water, and fire utilizing stained glass, mixed media, and photo/print transfer to present an environmental warning about lost and endangered species in Canada. Most recently, during COVID, I have been contemplating the delicacy of my avian visitors, and the strength that my animals and garden give me while painting now.
I hope in all cases the themes presented in my work resonate with others and serve as a starting point for reflection and ongoing conversation.
Distinguished Writer of the ArtAscent Gardens call for entry. To see the full body of work, grab a copy of the ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal Gardens issue.