Bridal Series:
   Red Mandalas
Refrigerator Series:
   Flowery Meads
Growth Type IV
   of Fear

Shaman's Wands/


I work in series to capture a variety of nuances on a particular theme -- expressed as much by the process and tools of the art-making as by the form of the finished product. My work is very intuitive, often originating in dreams or in waking visions, yet exploiting the spontaneous of materials as well.

Centrifugal/Equilibrium is the series that brought me back to painting after a long hiatus. I dreamt the first image, which was so exciting to me that it lead to over a dozen other versions, including "A Questions of Balance (blue)", "A Question of Violence (gray)" (with red spray paint), and "A Question of Hope (white)." On the one hand, these are formal experiments that vary not only in color, size, and composition, but also in the implements used and in the techniques. Some, for instance, rely exclusively on traditional homemakers’ kitchen utensils: paint is applied with knives, spoons or spatulas, and the circles representing the "bubbles" or "planets" are pushed into thick paint in the way that farmwives cut biscuits out of dough with a jar or can. But on the other hand, although at first I considered these compositions as purely abstract. as the process evolved I came to recognize that the circular images span a continuum between the bound orderly revolutions of planets and the arbitrary free movements of bubbles: they are images of the inner psychological "drama" in which we find ourselves trying to juggle the ever-increasing number of daily tasks and dilemmas in contemporary life, and balancing ever-expanding numbers of commitments. We find ourselves torn between fear and relief-- between trying to contain them and releasing them to forces that may send them spiraling beyond our control. The compositions trace an evolution in my recognition of the anxious tensions between revolving and floating, order and chaos, constraint and freedom, rhythm and randomness, intimacy and arbitrariness.

The Landscapes of Fear series continues this exploration of the creation of artistic "signs," giving physical form to raw emotion: the escalating fear I felt at a particular time in my life when I was confronting on several levels, in both my work and my personal life, the devastation wrought in women’s lives when they are silenced to protect patriarchy. These paintings use flat masses of bold raw color, interrupted by highly charged icons resembling lightning bolts or sprouts, to show how terror can depopulate our worlds and obliterate the contexts they strike, eliminating all sense of nuance, intricacy, and subtlety.

Where Are the Mothers For Us? uses a distorted form of the Japanese and Chinese character for "mother;" the distortion consists of the omission of the 2 dots (one on either side of the crossbar) that are said to represent the breasts that nurture the child. Too many women are placed in the position of nurturing others when they have never been adequately nurtured themselves; they continue to take care of others without knowing how to take care of themselves. The horizon line is green for growth; the purple is both the liturgical color symbolizing the passion, and a reference to Lady Murasaki Shikibu, the 10th-century Japanese author of Tale of Genji, the world’s first psychological novel, who invented this literary form, recorded the tragedies of women’s lives, and mothered a daughter who became a famous poet. (Murasaki is "lavender" in Japanese.)

Anti-Calligraphy is one of several series exploring the nature of the sign and its continuity with the icon on one hand and the purely gestural on the other. Although they are deeply grounded in my long studies of East Asian art and calligraphy, these works comprise the antithesis of East Asian calligraphy in several respects: in the use of viscous acrylic paint whose friction is recorded in the final image (as opposed to the traditional sumi or "India ink" that flows through the brush easily); in the placement of white on black (a reversal of the traditional black on white); in the creation of a gessoed and painted surface that resists the brush; and finally in the insistence on pure image without reference to meaning. The "Hiragana" series centers a single "letter" from the Japanese hiragana syllabary in otherwise empty space. The "Smudge" series is pure gesture, without ideographic or phonemic content of any kind.

A new series of modern -- and post-Modern -- Shaman's Wands, (begun in December 2004), is made from natural objects, found objects, household objects (especially tools and kitchen implements), and the ephemera of daily life. They range in style, theme, materials and subject from ironic commentaries on the superstitious and sometimes pseudo-scientific remedies of modern medicine, and the frantic and sometimes futile attempts to create a working sense of self-identity via identity cards, credit cards, etc., through more poignant comments on the ways patients may come to be identified with their disease (not shown), to experiments with assemblages of symbols of family and personal power caught, like Polynesian mana, in the jewelry, handcrafted items, and personal mementoes and gifts that have come to be associated with a given individual over time.

Several series on the Bridal theme were begun in December 1999. Thick white paint simulates the symbols associated with weddings in post-industrial America -- the sumptuous perfection of frosting and flowers on a wedding cake, the sheen of a white satin dress. It exploits the dazzling perfected surfaces society creates to clothe one of women’s key experiences, in order to explore the fantasies we create around the bride and the purity of her experience. The works in "Bridal: Something Old" and "Trapped" playfully contrast antique lace and copper and other metal wire with the pristine yet deeply sensual qualities of shimmering white paint. ` In the "Broken Glass" series that combines this white paint with shards of glass, I scatter glass across the paint to increase the lucidity and refractions. "Indra’s Post-Modern Net: Bus stop at 11th and Lombard, Center City, Philadelphia," recently shown at Zonk Gallery, is reminiscent of the illustrious net of the Hindu and Buddhist god Indra: the pieces of fractured safety glass, recovered from a vandalized Philadelphia busstop (at the corner of 11th and Lombard Streets, near the artist’s home) recall the intersections that in Indra’s net are luminescent jewels, each reflecting and connecting everything else in the universe. In Bridal: Red Mandalas, I dig -- literally, into the paint, with women’s traditional kitchen implements, such as forks, knives, and spoons -- beneath the shining surface of the bridal symbols, tearing away the pristine white paint to suggest the bloody, raw pain of the childhood incest victim. These works focus on the searing contrasts between doting parents’ meticulous and ostentatious presentation of the bride’s purity for the wedding, and the horrific experiences their negligence or timidity in confronting sexual predators may have exposed her to as a younger girl.
Last update: January 30, 2011