I make prints in order to connect with a broad audience in a fashion that is both mediated and quite personal. The privilege of the multiple allows work to be seen by viewers in a variety of spaces and circumstances simultaneously, but the evidence of the artist’s hand bridges that perceived distance. The attention to detail, the respect for craft, the collaborative and interactive nature of the medium attracts people to my work who would not typically engage with contemporary art. It also doesn’t hurt that I have made a lot of work filled with dinosaurs! Subject matter that is at once fantastic and nostalgic is used like a chum bucket to lure eyes to my work. In this way I see myself as an evangelist for art, a fisher of men, earnestly trying to pull individuals back into the gallery, and to bring artists back in contact with their audience. The democracy of my chosen medium means art can be an inclusive, affordable component of anyone’s life, not just the privileged few. Facilitating these inclusive art experiences is an important component of my research.
I incorporate contemporary theory and practice into traditional printmaking techniques to create work that is at once linked with the present and the past. In this way, my creative work parallels my interest in evolution and natural history. The prints may be technically sound, but they are also conceptually challenging and aesthetically iconoclastic. Compositions and motifs often reference art historical precedents, but loud colors, and new fangled green techniques place me firmly in the contemporary milieu. Relief printing on alternative recycled substrates, lithography using more sustainable materials, and digitally informed execution in a variety of media are but a few moves toward innovation in my work. In the near future I plan to further limit my own consumption through strategies like making paper from fabric and paper scraps left over from previous projects in an effort to address the environmental impact of my chosen medium. I will also investigate creating my own ink bodies using printable pigments derived from sustainable plant sources. In this way I can do my part to reduce my footprint while also connecting to the art practices of a bygone age.
These new technical directions will be undertaken deliberately after considerable research and experimentation, not unlike many of the chances taken in my work. An element of risk is infused into every print in order to keep me on my toes technically and creatively. Shortcuts or even self-sabotage are employed while a work is in progress in order to stay present at the press. However, each departure is founded in experience with the expectation of recovery and learning. I liken it to leaping for a hold on a cliff face while still being clipped into the line, rather than jumping out of a plane without a parachute.
My artwork is a testament to an abiding interest in the Big Picture: cultural, historical, political, and ecological. More to the point, my work addresses how humans are a part of a global community—residents, not lords of the manor—and should be good neighbors both to each other and all of nature. Years living in south Louisiana, being overrun and then rundown by the consequences of disregard for the environment and the less fortunate, have left a lasting impact on my work. In the past I have described respect for the natural world as stewardship, but in some ways this term props up the patriarchy I work to challenge within my narratives. Traditional gender roles and notions of romance are self-consciously called into question in my larger body of work as female characters routinely fend for themselves because men are too caught up in posturing and ego stroking to help their ladies love. My interest in contemporary courtship has been addressed by a central query—“Has Romance Gone the Way of the Dinosaurs?”—a question asked sincerely, and answered with an emphatic “Nope”. Dinosaurs have long been employed as the protagonists in my work to reference the fossil fuels humans tirelessly rip, suck, and dig out of the planet like an abusive lover. Saurians like humans were once the dominant life forms on Earth, but—despite their huge sizes and numbers—they made relatively little lasting impact on the planet. The prehistoric cast is also appropriate as I question the archaic, primordial nature of many of our behaviors. This remains true as I use these forbearers to comment on my own upbringing and current lifestyle. The creative Cretaceous is coming to an end, the primordial will make only cameo appearances as fossils in my work going forward, but they remain a powerful and flexible metaphor.
Recently, I have pulled back on the ironic throttle of my work; worried that satire has created a distance between the audience and myself. New pieces attempt to inspire compassion within the culture by exploring the deeply personal, our close relationships and families. This new direction includes the wholly sentimental White Bread series that illustrates how my family influenced my worldview using baking as a metaphor, the Adrift suite that examines the isolation and anxiety of my marriage in the contemporary cultural and ecological morass, and collaborative installations made from repurposed materials where my partner and I attempt to come to terms with bringing another consumer into our family and onto an already overcrowded planet. New work like Gargantua and Flint Hills Hammock feature my child and discuss the outsized impact his tiny body is already having on the ecosphere. In this way I can create deeply personal pieces while ruthlessly acknowledging my own complicity in our current ecological predicament. The sentiments anchoring this work may not be unique, but in the age of irony, sincerity may be the most effective way to unearth shared truths and promote understanding. It may be naïveté, but in my experience the more we find we have in common, the harder it is to be awful to one another. In the end, while my work is increasingly autobiographical it is in an attempt to effectively share my restless optimism about our collective future.