Trained in the craft-arts, my work and interests have always centered on objects and materials. Early on, my focus was on metalsmithing and woodworking with a commitment to the field of contemporary jewelry. These days, my work shows the influences of printmaking, graphic design, textile practices and a continued appreciation for everyday objects and vernacular regional culture. In this, I see the responsiveness of my work to my recent environment: immersive, interdisciplinary studio-based programs situated in the Midwest.
Studio practice has served as a counter-balance to the analytical, strategic and interpersonal work of educational leadership. My studio-life now turns to quicker, eased-up ways, trusting an accumulation of education and professional work. Influences percolate to the surface gently and obliquely and I find myself working from trained instinct rather than strict intention.
ON PAPER BAG WEAVINGS AND MIDWESTERN GARAGE PRINT SERIES
Both of these series use modest, direct means to pursue ideas about regional identity and local character. As a politically engaged person, I look for the qualities of the ‘local’, as a way to reflect on the political implications of the ‘national’. For this work, my focus was the Midwest; and my research done through road-travel and within my own community. Using print-based and craft-based practices allows my ideas and materials to be directly linked. My materials are in the local groceries stores of Kansas City; Ames, Iowa; Fenton, Michigan. My object-vocabulary comes from Detroit-area estate sales, thrift stores in Des Moines and hardware stores in Lincoln, Nebraska. My inspirations for pattern and composition are the views from the highways: the modernist designs of Nebraska’s I80 rest areas, the patterns of Iowa’s new windmills against its long-planted fields. My work uses objects and materials directly – woven grocery bags, inked flyswatters and milk crates – as a way to discover the meanings in modest things and the possibilities for reconsidering them. In this, I look for ways to recognize our immediate surroundings and their implications.
This work takes my research into the terrain of American households, local communities and regional identity through the franchise, the small business narrative, success and failure. This could be seen as a grand narrative, but rather than grand, I am interest in the modest, the small-potatoes, the low stakes. The Midwest has captured me as a vehicle for this set of interests.