NEWS VS NATURE SERIES:
I began the “News vs. Nature” series in 2011, envisioning the organized chaos of nature reigning supreme against the psychological toll of bad news. The series was featured in “New American Paintings” that year, and then I put it aside for other projects. I felt compelled to start these again in 2017, post-inauguration, but now it’s hard to tell who to root for. Is the news fake or, more likely, a last bastion of truth? Is nature sublime, or does it represent the most disturbing aspects of human nature. I don’t know anymore, but an epic battle rages on. GREAT AMERICAN SERIES:
Conceived during the harsh and unsettling rhetoric that blanketed the run-up to the 2017 presidential election, my Great American series is a critical view of the social, political, and cultural environment juxtaposing ideas related to the American dream--including opportunity, equality, and the pursuit of happiness-- with the current economic and political landscape that has since be re-imaged though the now ubiquitous statement “Make America Great Again.” Drawing from my familial lineage of craft, which includes quilting, sewing, and embroidery, I created large, pillow-like letters patterned in the iconic stars and stripes. I arranged them to form Great (and eat) strategically at locations I regularly visit or see in passing. For example, “(Great American) Home”, which includes the Houston skyline near historic Allen’s Landing, also includes someone’s temporary home under a bridge, and evidence of a flooding event. “Great American (Hancock Fabrics)” shows ebullient signage advertising the liquidation of my neighborhood fabric store by a company called the “Great American Group” The letters stand in as an alternative form of graffiti that allows viewers to evaluate their meaning. Historically though, graffiti is viewed as a seedy representation of the dark underbelly of society and a marker for urban decay.
REDWORK: CONGRESSIONAL PENNY SQUARES SERIES:
My ongoing series of embroidered congressional districts are documentation of absurd gerrymandering, preservation of an obscure needlework/quilting medium, and commentary through a historically loaded medium. In this usage, “Redwork” becomes a double entendre for present day political machinations as well as specific style of embroidery. Redwork originated in the lower to middle classes in Europe and America due to the common nature of the materials (as opposed to fine fabrics and silk threads), the minimal use of thread, and an easy technique, all of which made it affordable and accessible, Growth of the technique in America was also attributed to the weaker economy following the depression. During the 1860s-1930s women also did not have many ways to voice their concerns or political views but penny squares often addressed these issues. Penny squares were ready-to-stich redwork blocks on muslin, which were sold in general stores, to be assembled into quilts. I find these references to specific classes, commerce, economics, and social commentary startlingly relevant to the present day.
The encaustic "quilts" of my Vintage
series weave together indexical remnants of an unknown person, whose life was documented in a small found photo album from Southwest Houston. Due to the iconically vintage nature of some of the photos - with bouffant hairdos, yellow plastic lawn chairs, and go-go boots - I don't think the album owner is alive. By using her images though, I feel that her memories, treasures, and loves are reanimated in a sense, in an echo of an echo. I employ quilt pattern language to piece the images together: cathedral windows, for the glimpses into the moments that build a life; ocean waves, for the cyclical nature of families; grandmother's flowers, for a mother's hopes. These personal images will never occur again in their particularity, but I think the knowledge that they will repeated in other similar forms over and over again taps in to the universal pattern of life. I find some comfort there and, like my quilting relatives before me, I celebrate these events with my work. Titles for this series have been pulled from lines of a William Blake poem, The Ecchoing Green, as I have given much thought to innocence and experience while making these works: