Your work cannot be seen without moving the viewer. What are the themes/subjects that draw you in?
My subject matter is drawn from life: my memories, dreams, nightmares, fears, people who inspire me, everyday reflection, things I’m passionate about and things that make me melancholy. With regards to the latter, I love to transform my painful experiences into a beautiful piece of art as it is very cathartic for me.
Do you have a particular process when beginning a piece?
My process utilizes a blend of order, chaos, serendipity and constant inquiry as jumping off points for my work. When I’m piecing my collages together, I often feel like a mad scientist! Everything begins in a very precise, orderly fashion as I select pre-torn magazine images I’ve collected from labelled trays I’ve categorized and neatly arranged. As I search for just the right fragments to tell my story, it doesn’t take long for everything to burst into a seemingly chaotic mess with paper fragments everywhere! This is when things get exciting for me. I’m most productive when everything is sprawled out before me (even at my feet): this is when miracles are born out of the chaos I’ve created and random pieces assemble themselves in ways on my work tables in arrangements I never imagined but am drawn to nonetheless. Another thing that drives me from the get go is asking myself that all-important question: “what if”…
Do you gather inspiration, sketch or write about a piece?
I gather ideas for stories from my written journals, dream journals, news stories, characters from other stories I like and an ongoing list of themes I keep. I used to make sketches to test out ideas for mixed media pieces, but I’ve found with collage I can work more spontaneously. Until I cut and glue the pieces down I can play with an endless array of arrangements until I find a grouping which appeals to me for a particular subject matter.
Since I’ve been exhibiting, I write about each piece while I’m making it or after I’ve completed it. I reference key image sources used in it and stories surrounding its creation. I like to research the image fragments I use because I’m curious about the original context of images and their authors… but I only research the images that intrigue me (ie. a character or a symbol reference) because it would take much time to research every fragment I use in a collage! Sometimes I use this information to my advantage in my composition or choose to ignore it. Other times, I don’t check the images’ original references until after I do the piece. Although it’s time consuming, I love knowing the stories behind the many fragments I choose – it’s a quirky habit I got from my days as a researcher. Also, I feel as a visual artist it’s necessary to understand more about the visual or historical context of the imagery I choose to reference in my work. I love it when the story behind an image fragment works in sync with my collage story without me knowing in advance what it was all about – it’s so serendipitous and also says something about following my intuition when creating as well as finding artists whose work and interests are kindred spirits of my own.
Your website is an example of the meticulous and thoughtful nature of your art. How has having a website helped you grow as an artist?
Like teaching, my website and my blog in particular, help me to take stock of my life, art and business goals. My blog forces me to slow down and really reflect upon what I want to share and put out in the world for others to draw from and, also I hope, want to add to my discussions about the art, collage and life. It allows me the chance to inspire and shape readers’ thoughts – or at least give them food for thought. In this way I feel I’m doing my little bit of improving and empowering my tiny part of the art scene – on a global scale too, thanks to the internet. Maintaining a website and its accoutrements has challenged me technically, improved my marketing and networking skills and tremendously empowered my artist spirit. It’s quite a mental, creative and emotional workout!
Whose art influences you?
Basically any artist who incorporates their personal mythologies, beliefs and experiences to create work that’s moving to them on some level. I love artists that are totally obsessed with an idea and go to town with it like Outsider artists. At its heart, my work is highly influenced by fine artists such as: Max Ernst, Kurt Schwitters, Joseph Cornell, Barbara Kruger, Nick Bantock, Jane Ash Poitras, Carl Beam, Frida Kahlo and Daune Michaels. It has also drawn inspiration from the collage / mixed media of work of mixed media artists/visual journalers: Kelly Kilmer and Juliana Coles who made me see the great creative potential of journaling anew. Equally important to this mix are the everyday domestic creative skills taught to me by my parents such as sewing, baking, carpentry and home decorating – these have influenced my conception of what art is in crucial ways.