This page marks an evolution of my artist statements and work.
We are castaways in a vast sea of information. We are drowning in the white noise of an ever- expanding archive. How will we find our way through this chaos? In my studio practice, I translate and subvert textual forms—newspapers, maps, books, comics, and web sites—to draw attention to the shortcomings of modes of communication and our limits of comprehension. The haptic sensibilities of the objects we use to navigate information are incorporated into the formal structure of my works. Sails of traced newspapers, pools of smocked silk, spider-like webbed sites, and water and oil touchscreens emerge from my studio. My visual language increasingly draws upon historical sources from turn-of-the-century and space-age explorers combined with digital ephemera to investigate the reemergence of the Sublime (as summoned by the internet) into present-day consciousness.
Two recent projects, “Mobilis in Mobili” and “So Far”—large-scale interactive installations— network sculptural basins, grids, transparent collages, found text, textiles, and ethereal lighting to stand as sculptural handbooks for the digital castaway longing for tactile connection. With glowing deep-blue pools and fabric craters accompanied by the sound of drips, these installations evoke outer space and a lunar landing in turn. The viewer wanders the space of the installation and examines (sometimes by touch) micro-sites populated with text fragments and images within the sculptures. By situating the viewer as wayfarer of an enigmatic site, I introduce a parallel between exploration of physical or textual spaces and that of the less tangible journeys of the overwhelmed psyche seeking serenity. Influenced by the literature of Jules Verne, Italo Calvino, and Jorge Luis Borges, I allude to the haunts and material goods of cosmonauts and arctic expeditionists (particularly S.A. Andrée and Frederick Cook), and pair them with excerpts of junk mail, screenshots, and glitches to create an uncertain narrative of navigation, adaptation, conflict, and failure. Implicit in the relationship of the explorer to the subject of their attention is a sense of longing and risk. The refusal to present a clear narrative draws attention to the gap between consumption of data and knowing where—or even who—one is.
Making through uncertainty is integral to my practice. Poiesis – making as doing – is at the heart of my work. The space of my studio is a place of careful curation and inquisitive recombinatory processes where sculptures join comics, plaster meets silk, and poetry sculpted of Facebook posts. I’m not often certain of what will come of wandering through the cultivation of work, but it ties in closely with the struggles I see played out in mediums of information. To make is to assert agency while attempting to become at ease with uncertainty. The labor of interacting online with information may seem to be an effortless activity at times, especially when contrasted with the labor of making physical objects. However in an age of touchpads and touchscreens, the physical expression of the hand continues to play an integral part of our relationship to gathering and dispersing information even if we lose the satisfaction of enacting an affect on the materials we are in direct contact with. The monumental object is not my goal. I look for ways to evoke the special properties of the digital realm while remaining connected to the haptic, phenomenological relationship of sculpture and interaction with various reading devices.
As a sculptor, I undertake the task to make the unseen, seen, the weightless and formless have physical presence, and suggest vastness in finite materialism all with an aim to make place and things feel tenuous and multi-layered as reminders of our own ephemerality and individual multifaceted experiences.
Mobilis in Mobili: Errancy in the Digital Era 5.2015
This paper accompanied my final project for my MFA, Mobilis in Mobili. It outlines my trajectory and interests over the last few years.
It will eventually be available on The University of Florida’s network.
4.2014 On Communication
The systems of communication that we rely on to navigate our place in the world are inherently flawed. I draw on references and modes of communication both past and present and aim to highlight the failures of these systems through appropriation and misuse of their intended purpose to guide us. Newspapers, books, maps, HTML code, spoken words and other modalities are undermined by their inability to perfectly transmit information.
All of them rely on their materiality to facilitate communication that is still subject to misinterpretation and misdirection by recipients. We have a deep-seated desire to know, learn, and consume in order to better understand and situate ourselves in the world, however we can never consume everything available to us. In a society that constantly generates new knowledge via the web, libraries of books, and museums of natural history and art, we are drowning in a constant expansion of archives, data, and technology. This expansion and our limited ability to fully immerse and absorb it all, in a moment, a year, or a lifetime leaves us lost at sea, unable to find our bearings. Motivated by this loss of place and time, my work strives to recontextualize this struggle through a poetic exploration of materiality and dislocation. Operating from the fundamental principle that poetics is process, my works utilize mutability, translucency, labor associated with textiles and writing, erasures, and illegible markmaking that illuminate and obscure the internal processing of loss and grief. Rooted in analog translations of digital interfaces, silk becomes screen, mylar becomes window, dye becomes loss, and marks become negations. Delicate, impractical materials elicit ephemerality, and become an illegible web of liminal communication, erasing the places we think we know, bookmarking what isn’t there, and rewriting questions about what could or will ever be in our consciousness. We wander.
tl:dr Communication is hard, I point this out.
Statement (on borrowing form) 4.2013
The imprecision of language and our persistent attempt to relay the ineffable is one of the underlying themes in my work. The fullness of experience is too complex: the present moment, memory, and our expectations all intersect. Try as we might, something is always lost in translation. To me, the sharing of experiences often feels like shining a light through a mist where the reflection obscures more than it reveals, yet it remains an important step in orientating myself in an existence that is fleeting and disconcertingly chaotic. It is this tense desire -to articulate the enigmatic or, at the least, to find comfort in ambiguity- that drives my work.
Over the last few years, my work has functioned in the space between drawing, sculpture, and textiles with a consistent allusion to storytelling. Some of my first drawings made in this vein re-enacted the performance of the mythical Norns spinning the Threads of Fate for each human. Specimens consisted of over 200 threads handspun on a brass spindle and then captured as a tangled line under glass, wisps of fortunes untold. In these drawings, as in my most recent ones, I am interested by the marks, traces, or codes that drawings can contain.
Two of my recent series what I might have said and News derive their forms from paper objects: the first from origami balloons, the second from the Arts section of The New York Times. What I might have said respond to a paper origami balloon I kept in my pocket over several weeks. The paper balloon functions as vessel for breath, as well as potential container for words and phrases that cannot be adequately articulated. The air in them becomes pregnant with possibility. The drawings borrow their compositions from the creases left in an unfolded balloon. The marks found in each panel are systemized codifications of text from an old book never read. The marks become asemic, suggesting story and cadence, but denying specifics. They abstract into constellations, map-like and star-like at once.
News is a collection of tracings of the arts sections of the newspaper onto translucent mylar. The pages fill with empty boxes and only navigational cues remain. Text directs the viewer, but where? The remade newspapers hang perpendicular to the wall and shift slightly in the currents of a room like boats in harbor. How might these emptied pages suggest orientation in a sea of information? Like the newspapers once found in libraries, these objects are meant as reference material to be handled. With repeated viewings the pages will pick up smudges from readers reflecting the reader’s activity back to them.
I am a storyteller who finds language unreliable, and so am left grappling for other means to decode the spaces around me, these works are a part of my investigation.
Statement (on abstraction and materiality) 10.2012
People seem to be mesmerized by abstraction; in cloud gazing we make a game of seeking recognizable shapes in the sky, while in more oracular traditions significance is wrested from coffee grounds and ink blots. My own fascination -and unease- with chaos manifests through the repeated creation and preservation of tangled and amorphous masses in the attempt to find comfort within delicate systems of complexity. These works most often take form as layered sculptures and drawings.
The fact that my materials have their own idiosyncrasies and respond to manipulation in sometimes unexpected ways is central to my process. Within my Tangle sculpture series, masses of linear elements are layered between multiple layers of acrylic sheets. These lines are threads I spin from cotton fluff on a tiny brass spindle and then allow to writhe and tangle beneath my hands. In other work, as with the Morphosis drawings, the linear elements are graphite prints of the threads. These tangled echoes are imprinted on wooden panels and then the object is wrapped in translucent mylar distancing our focus from the surface of the work.
Within the inkblot formations of the Morphosis works and the translucent loosely-bound paper layers of a more perfect blue, my inks are mixed with other materials to relinquish some control of the final form and color, while allowing opportunity for subtle shifts and surprises.
Color has been rare in my work until recently when permutations of blue began surfacing in Morphosis and a more perfect blue as I found myself thinking of the mind as a fountain of ideas, stories, and memories. Translucency and layers translate to quiet reveries where interpretations of the abstract murmur beneath the surface.
Artist Statement (on chaos, handspun and tangles) early 2012
Much of my recent work revolves around handspinning raw chaotic fiber into orderly line and shaping ordered line into tangled mass within drawings and sculptures as a way to navigate the nebulous space between order and chaos, chance and control.Thread is often regarded as a liminal material, always in transition towards a larger whole, whether sewn, knit, or woven. As such, I find the material itself – especially fresh off the spindle, wriggling and writhing against its new form – fascinating. I’m both discomfited and mesmerized by the amorphous tangles that take shape beneath my hands when a new thread is let loose.
People seem to be uneasy with abstraction; in cloud gazing we make a game of finding recognizable shapes in the sky, while in more oracular traditions significance is wrested from coffee grounds and ink blots. My own unease with chaos manifests itself most often through the repeated creation and preservation of tangled masses in the attempt to find comfort within delicate systems of complexity. The use of tangled lines also highlights our often ineffable relationship to time. Time is linear, but our experience of it is not: the present moment overlays with our memories of the past and our expectations of the future.
The inclusion of handspun within my work, either as the object or the record of its production, acknowledges two types of archetypal human creation: spinning as an ancient gesture of the hand and the storytelling which has accompanied it through the ages. The process of spinning has been with us for many millenia; perhaps for as long as language. Prior to industrialization, nearly every cloth was first formed as individual threads. Each of those threads contains the mark of the hand, however skilled the hand or subtle the mark. In our attempt to derive order through creation, we humans rarely, if ever, achieve perfection, but within the tradition of handcraft that doesn’t seem to deter us from trying. Spinning’s pervasiveness meant it was often a group activity. As the hands of our ancestors danced the ancient spinners’ dance, the spinners’ mouths spun stories to fill the ears of their companions. In this way, thread is tied to language and becomes shorthand for those collectively told cultural and personal narratives now lost to ether of time.