Briefly describe the work you do.
Speaking broadly, my work isabout the environment and mankind’s relationship to it. It is my belief that so many of our environmental issues stem from cultural and economic issues and the three are increasingly interconnected. This interconnectednessleads to all sorts of suffering. Internally it leads to desires, control, anxiety, and externally climate change and violence.
My most recent work draws on the notion of impermanence as a built-in factor of all life. The paintings reference buildings that have suffered through one of the “Super Storms” that have hit across the world in the past couple of years. I like the idea that these man-made structures signify a loss of control, of impermanence. But they also signify our attempt to control the environment which results in excessive carbon emissions, which then results in storms that destroy these structures; a circle. This is the larger picture, however at its core are my own personal and recent life events. My own loss has showed me how vulnerable we are in this life, despite the structures, physical and mental, we try to employ for some attempt at control.
Process is important to my work. It is one of collecting, of placing, arranging and tending to. I like to use pieces of found materials to reference our surroundings.
Compositionally, I want to bring a tension with structure and chaos, horizon lines that get lost, fragments strewn about. Often, I flip the painting upside down or to the side at some point and leave it that way. Visually, this throws off any grounding that once was, making the viewer question what is really stable.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I grew up in the Midwest and raised within a large farming family. At their core is the farm my grandparents ran, which continues to thrive within my family. The countryside of the Midwest; the traditions it sustains, the vastness of the landscape and appreciate of land, has greatly influenced my work.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
There have been times in my life when I was able to dedicate adequate time “being in the studio.” These times did fit the traditional notion of what it meant to be in the studio. As this amount of time fluctuates from month to month, I have learned to adjust by finding different ways to incorporate studio practice. This has proved to strengthen my work in that it asks me to look outside myself and more to my surroundings. Alongside the tradition notion of being in the studio, my work relies on research and experience that happens outside it.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
When I first started making art, I was that artist who whole heartedly enjoyed toiling away in a room by herself. Through the work I did at the time, I described the world around me and my experience of it. Although my work today still does that, I have opened myself up to the possibility of creating change and an awareness for others about the world. This was something I had never envisioned myself doing before.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
Since the birth of my daughter, three years ago, I have been unable to schedule time set aside to work in the studio. For the most part, I get into the studio to work whenever I can and whenever my supplementary job allows for it. Applying for, and receiving opportunities to show, increases the amount of time I spend in the studio, so it is important that I continue to search out those opportunities. This past year has offered many opportunities and motivations for me to spend adequate time in the studio, thanks to exhibitions, galleries and a position as a Visiting Professor of Art.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
I can start by listing all the ways in which my life has changed in five years; completed my MFA, married, worked eight different jobs, had two kids, had a car stolen, had two surgeries and moved four times. Similarly, my work has changed significantly and undergone many revisions. I have become more focused in my work, but have also struggled with formal aspects. I have found that often you walk through your art like you do you life, and the past five years have been rotating forms of thin ice and solid ground. One thing I have not lost is my passion for my work and my desire to continue pushing myself both formally and conceptually. My experience has showed me the more time I have in the studio, the more I expand my work and push myself artistically. Overall, I think this is an important goal for every artist to have. To keep pushing limits, and ultimately finding uncomfortable places that challenge the conceptual and formal aspects of the work.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
Philosophers have always been of interest to me for the way they question different aspects of life. Their thinking is of the utmost rational of irrational thinking. Philosophers and thinkers of this sort that I am drawn to are Martin Heidegger, Gaston Bachelard and Alan Watts. I find a strong connection between philosophers and artists; both of whom look at the world from a different view. Additionally, life as I know it strongly impacts my work – so this would include all of my friends and family. They have made me who I am and will forever impact the work I do.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
I would be a teacher. Although I am not sure that is a fair answer, as I am one currently. For the past several years I have been lucky enough to complement my studio practice with teaching. This allows me to be continuously involved with the art community. Teacher and artist, or Art Teacher and artist, both offer consistent opportunities for learning, teaching, experiencing and growing. There are always new stones to turn over; always new experiences, lessons, discoveries.
I was born in Geneva, Illinois to a large Midwest farming family and it was there that I found inspiration for my work. The sights, smells and sounds of the prairie have been tremendously influential. My work is intricately tied to the landscape; its use, misuse and particularly the individual’s sense of place within it. She uses different materials to process, visualize and interpret the landscape. Documentation, outreach, and public exhibition are important aspects in the development of the work as well as my contribution to the local community.
I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa in 2002. I then worked as an elementary art teacher, and climbing instructor in Boulder, Colorado before pursuing my MFA in Tucson, Arizona at the University of Arizona. I worked as a Graduate Assistant for the University of Arizona teaching painting, drawing, color and design and mixed media. It was also in Tucson where I gave birth to my daughter Ila, who is now three years old. Since then, I have tried to find balance between my professional life and my life as a mother. I have worked as a Visiting Professor of Art for Idaho State University and now an adjunct at Westminster College and University of Utah. I reside in Salt Lake City.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.