My art practice is an exploration of identity, geography and meaning in materials. The movement of people, resources, and ideas through voluntary and forced migrations are themes that find expression in my work. I use abstraction to create openness for a larger shared history with all of its contradictions and multiple perspectives. I explore the capacity of materials and aesthetics to create interstitial spaces that bind and form common grounds for humanity. I am interested in creating visual language that is engaged individual and collective identities and the history, culture, economies and geographies that they are tethered to.
I am process oriented and engage with patterns and materials as conceptual signifiers. I like to use materials that have a historical fingerprint to make an unexpected contemporary statement. Textiles have been in my hands for as long as I can remember and they are potent signifiers of labor, trade, industry, slavery, luxury, baptisms, weddings, funerals, gender, and history. My engagement with textiles is the interstitial space between craft and fine art, the past and the present, painting and sculpture, landscape and portrait, abstraction and representation, history and the present. In particular, I explore the contradictions of whiteness in textiles as something pure, stained, fragmented, constructed, degraded, broken and enduring. My textile artworks are composed from stained and heavily worn vintage lace, seams, trim, ruffles and bindings structured in a grid form. I imagine the abstract patterns in the material as protein folds of DNA that cross bodies of water and continents, and cross the bodies of ancestors. I intend the textile patterns to evoke text, music, history, and the presence and work of women. My choice in materials and composition strives for a conceptual tension between that which is whole and broken, precious and fragmented.
I became inspired by the notion of hydrarchy as a way of shifting my perspective and understanding identity formation from a land based and fixed orientation to the fluency of the sea. This guides me to find visual forms that describe identity formation in flux.
The heart of my inquiry has to do with what the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society eloquently describes as Othering and Belonging. Toward this end I am inspired by Édouard Glissant’s theories in Poetics of Relation. In particular I am captivated by what I have interpreted as suggestions that there is only difference and identity formation is not fixed but rather ever in a state of becoming. He says, “One of the full-senses of modernity is provided by the action of human cultures identifying one another for their mutual transformation.” His work informs my art practice and it also guides my research and pedagogical engagement with the history of art.