of my recent work centers around feelings I have about identity and
about family. This issue is complicated for me, as I was adopted. I have
never been in touch with my biological family, and a period of time
passed before I was placed with my adoptive family. Frequently, I start
out thinking that I am working through some particular feeling about my
biological family, but later come to realize that my adoptive family is
the screen by which I judge all family relationships. It is impossible
to separate the two.
Working with emotional material pre-dating even my own birth, I submerge myself in the painful feelings -- I sometimes sink to the bottom, unable it seems, ever to rise to the surface. My husband asks "Why do you torture yourself?" I don't think that I am strong enough to be an artist. This job, this commitment I have made to myself to make art -- art that is as much a part of me as my hand. Art that spills the contents of my soul onto the floor.
I work from my heart. I frequently cry when I am putting a piece together. It is difficult to say what each piece means, or what each element means. I try to just move steadily forward. I typically do no sketching, no concept work, I just start with an element -- a fence, a chair, a tree. I believe in forces outside myself, they guide me. I am overwhelmed by the process, as I am overwhelmed by the reaction people have to my work. I never thought that work so personal, so full of my feelings, could touch others -- in ways, I'm sure, that are both different and similar from the ways it touches me.
I don't live with my sculptures. They sit, stacked up, in pieces in my studio. Sometimes, just being there with them can fill me with feelings of pain. They are like animals, hiding in the corners.
Most of my pieces border on monochromatic: the natural color of steel; copper sheet with a patina that darkens it to dark blue/gray with streaks of pink; walnut stained to a dark, warm brown. It's steel that speaks to me the loudest. Several years ago, I was mystified by metal. Drawn to it, but sure that I could never have what it takes to work in it. But I felt its energy, its sureness and its depth. I now find joy in the process of manipulating steel. I love the noise, the heat, the sparks, the challenge. The physical act of translating feelings into a structure is a valuable part of the process of my art. It takes strength from me and gives me strength in return.
I have shown my work as an object-based installation -- showing several pieces in a room by themselves. I have hung metal branches from the ceiling and used old wooden gates to break up the space. Gorecki's 3rd symphony played in the background. At one of these shows, a local curator described my work as chapters of a book. I was touched by another who said that my work was poetry.