I construct spatial experiences that serve as metaphors for the incorporeal states of the human experience: loss, possibility, change. Fascinated by how physical environments and architectural structures resonate with emotional states of being, I use my memory and perceptions of particular places and events to create allegorical space through installations and prints.
Inspired by watching party boats traverse the bay beyond my bedroom window in Portland, I made Echolocation, a portrait of a boat on a moonlit night. Its contrasting materials of bronze and printed tissue paper evoke disorienting sensations simultaneously of weightlessness and mass. The rich printed darkness of the paper functions metaphorically for the primordial abstraction of change that reveals itself as the bronze boat (serving as a symbol for the world itself) adapts to mysterious and changing conditions.
I use both two and three-dimensional strategies in my art practice to explore the nature of imagination. I often depict spaces that carry the imprint of latent activities: a fair ground for an annual festival, a drive-in movie screen in winter, or a ski lift in summer. My current series of etchings, Navigation Lights, focuses on depictions of lights at night. I intentionally use specific mark-making techniques and choice of paper to amplify the ephemerality of my subjects. Working in intaglio, I blow powdered copy toner onto copper plates. The fine black powder is heat-set and the plates etched. Until the images are etched into permanence, the toner is transient and mutable, and I am able to act and react to the images forming on the plate. This technique mimics the intention underlying my overall studio practice—to pin down the fleeting thus allowing for a slower and closer examination.
I work with paper because of its ephemeral nature and its easy expression of ordinariness. With each project I exploit new facets of paper’s rich identity. It’s commonness presents ways to both connect with and surprise a range of audiences. I hope to achieve a sleight of hand in my work that enchants the viewer, and it is my long involvement and mastery over materials that enables me to do so.
Stirred by the view from my studio window of a snow-covered landscape, View from High Places, is an installation that includes a tower of folded paper bricks. Huge and swaying on its grid of strings, the vulnerable tower has a single window that serves as a lonely vantage point onto a large panoramic image of delicately printed buildings. The work evokes the groundless feeling of loss and potential that comes prior to a moment of personal change. Each brick is folded from templates I printed on tissue paper to conjure an architectural blueprint. Rather than a solid structure resulting from the information contained on my ‘blueprints,’ these bricks become actual building blocks, resulting in something tenuous, poetic, and magical.
As a final illustration of my studio practice, one which is actively participatory in nature, Breathe: The Emergent Colony, is an installation comprised of golden yellow tissue paper resembling a giant honeycomb. More than a representation, this piece becomes a ritualized enactment of social connection and community. Fragile, translucent tissue paper structures with an aesthetic similarity to party decorations glow as honey might. As visitors collect in the space, the poignantly temporary structure of Breathe is also the set for performative events, and viewers and performers are showered by cast golden light from the canopy overhead. Viewers are invited to participate in a “breath box” ritual in which they inflate and hang folded paper boxes. These swollen cubes collect over time and float within the space, completing the installation with a collective exhale made visible.
Ultimately, it is my belief that art has the capacity to tell the story of the spiritual life of human beings and can be a catalyst or tool for healing in a society. In many ways my practice is an attempt to contribute to this possibility.