THE JOURNEY TO NOW
My first large scale painting (medium – crayons!) was done at the age of 4 on my grandparents’ living room wall.
Unfortunately, it was not as well-received as I had hoped! I, however, felt like an abstract expressionist, even though I had no idea what that was! I do remember the experience vividly, however, and the sense of freedom I felt at working on a large flat surface.
My first three-dimensional work (medium – dirt!) was done at age 5. I sculpted an elaborate conical mountain out of dirt, complete with a really cool spiral roadway all the way to the top, and side features for parking, turning around, etc. I can still remember my excitement and feel the coolness of the dirt as I pressed it into the roadways… awesome.
After the living room wall painting effort, my grandmother made sure I had lots of blank paper on hand and I continued to draw throughout my childhood. I drew and painted for hours and hours, mostly people from pictures in magazines or books.
I was also captivated by science and the natural world. At 9, I asked for, and received a chemistry set and a telescope… I loved the idea of exploring the physical world and the stars. I read Jules Verne and dreamed of becoming an explorer of undiscovered realms; I wanted to be the first woman astronaut. I read the earliest books I could find from the library on human anatomy. I developed a love for science fiction and I had a mineral collection.
My burning questions as a child were things like
“where does the wind come from?”
“where does the night sky end?”
“have all the islands on Earth been discovered?"
“why does the shape of the moon change?”
In middle school, I continued to paint and draw a lot… I won a couple of painting contests and had a painting sent overseas. I began to sculpt… my first bust looks very much like Johnny Carson! I still have it. I very much wanted to become an artist… as it was my passion. Unfortunately, my mother, a child of the depression who wanted financial security for me, did not agree… so on to science studies I went.
I started college as a pre-med major. However, after meeting a dashing young man from Colorado, I took a break from college and we moved to the breathtaking Rocky Mountains of Colorado, high at the end of a dead-end dirt road. It was all new and fascinating to me since I had grown up on the Gulf Coast, with absolutely no rock outcrops in view… the only rocks I saw were rounded gravel found in driveways! We burned wood for heat and lived without running water way up in the mountains. It was cold but exhilarating!
During this time, we regularly visited Chaco Canyon National Monument in northern New Mexico where, for the first time ever, I heard a lecture on the subject of geology. I was instantly fascinated and intrigued. I asked myself, “What could be more basic than studying the earth?,” and I returned to college as a geology major.
I loved my geologic studies and I eventually earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in geology. I also returned to sculpture on the side during my university studies. After getting my MS, I became an exploration geologist. Finally my early desires to explore the unknown were coming to fruition!
I explored and mapped the Earth for minerals, and then oil and gas and worked on big drilling rigs in remote locations. I used the same three-dimensional abilities I had used in sculpting as a child to envision the makeup of the subsurface layers and structures of the earth. I worked all over the Rocky Mountains and in some of the most beautiful country in the U.S.
Eventually, as oil and mineral prices dropped, I shifted into environmental geology. I traveled even more… to the Aleutian Islands, to Homer and Anchorage, Alaska, then to Washington, New York, Colorado, Montana, Idaho and Los Angeles. After a few years, I became a project manager and was no longer doing the work I loved - exploring in the field - but rather I was stuck in cubicles, analyzing environmental data to track contaminant plumes in groundwater and soil. It became soul-killing work and I began to think more and more about making art again.
I took a ceramics class in Los Angeles and began sculpting like crazy. I bought every magazine I could find on ceramic sculpture. I was in love…. I had found my heart again.
A year later I moved back to Colorado, bought a home with a separate studio that was perfect for sculpting (clearly a sign from the Universe I thought!) and seriously began pursuing sculpture while still working as a scientist.
I continued with ceramic sculpture and quickly moved into bronze sculpture. Within a couple of years I had won a couple of awards along with a commission for a large-scale ceramic mural at a library. I had a public art bronze sculpture permanently installed at the National Park Service in western Colorado, had another bronze sculpture installed in Aspen, Colorado, and had two bronze sculptures permanently installed in a public art program in Grand Junction, Colorado, and eventually another bronze sculpture permanently installed at the University of New Mexico at Los Alamos.
Then I became intrigued with glass sculpture. After taking a weekend workshop, I bought a glass kiln along with the special glass that was required and, after extensive research, I began making cast glass sculpture. Casting glass sculpture is technically very challenging, and it appealed to my scientific mind as well as my artistic side.
Finally, a few years later, I returned to painting again, my true first love… I had not painted since childhood. Surprisingly, my hand still intuitively knew what to do! I could not believe it. Many paintings began to spring forth and I was in heaven.
Today, I have left the scientific management and cubicle world behind and I now do ceramic, bronze, glass, wood and plaster sculpture. I paint mostly in acrylic… combining some with collage, and also work in oils.
I have reclaimed my hand and returned full circle to the life I imagined as a child and teenager. Now I interpret my early childhood musings about life on earth into sculptures and paintings.
I have answered a lot of my childhood questions… But I still ponder “where does the night sky end?” and I now wonder “what comes next after this physical plane of life we live in?” These themes are reflected in my artwork.
I am very interested with the intersection of human life on Earth with geologic time. I am intrigued with the concept of “being and time” as espoused by the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, who viewed time as the fourth dimension.
The earth is 4.6 billion years old. Our lives are but a blip in the overall age of the earth, and are an even smaller component of the age of the universe.
My paintings frequently attempt to depict the concept of “time”… from abstracted horizontal features that, to me, depict ancient geologic layers that one day our bones will be part of, to vertical drips that symbolize all the rains that have occurred over the earth from its primordial beginnings to the present.
The spiral patterns I use in my sculptures are found at all scales of the Universe, from the spiral tracks of subatomic particles, to our fingerprints, to the spiral galaxy we live in. I use spirals to show that we are connected to the Universe and to something much greater than our individual lives.
Join me as I continue to explore human life in relationship to time as well as abstracted landscape horizons. Horizons represent for me the unknown... the unexplored, the unseen. I am living the life I dreamed of as a child, my work is informed by my scientific studies and my natural curiosities, and I am very grateful.