For several years I have investigated the expressive potential of infant figures in precarious positions and undefined space. I’m particularly interested in the vulnerability inherent in physical and emotional dependence and the potential for the image of a newborn as a metaphor for vulnerability. Since a newborn can’t bear the weight of its own head or control its movements, an adult must intervene. An infant is a legitimate ‘figure’ that deserves space on the pages rather than the margins of art history. The aesthetic challenge for me is to separate infant imagery from habitual associations with motherhood, religious deities, and contemporary political issues e.g. abortion while guarding against inherent sweetness and sentimentality.
Form and process are integral to the work; I use line, mark, color etc. to disrupt and dismantle predetermined interpretations. I intend the images to reside at the intersection between abstraction and representation. I reference photographs for the distortions and quality of light. Repeatedly I rely on a visible grid structure to acknowledge the two-dimensional surface.
Historically, piece work (traditional quilt-making process) made it possible for women to complete work on a large scale. Initially, piece-making was a way to conquer large-scale work and introduce ritual into the art making process when I had children at home. Over time, the ritualistic aspect has become central to my process. As pieces are completed the image grows and comes together sometimes by chance. The 8 ½” x 11” segments correspond to the ubiquitous paper module.
My earlier work includes an outdoor installation, Billboard Baby: On Time (Feb- April 2004) which used the metaphors of growth, development and time. People driving by or stuck in traffic witnessed the image develop and fade away over a two month period. Seemingly abstract areas of shape, line and tone gradually transformed into a recognizable image of a baby that remained unexplainably “non-commercial”. In the series (Gestation Drawings) the metaphors of birth, growth and time were mimicked in my process; one drawing each day for nine months. I have completed several on-site temporary drawing installations where I drew in a public space. Most recently, (October, 2012) I drew in the Bellevue College Gallery Space for the duration of the exhibition. The transitory nature of the process mimics the life cycle.
Charcoal drawing was traditionally a preparatory stage for painting and its less-than-adult status in art history still lingers. Paper and charcoal are impermanent, fragile and expendable materials with the potential to be extremely resilient (like babies).
“I am still searching for the expression of those confused sensations that we bring with us at birth.” Paul Cezanne