"Ravens taught me to pay attention. The desert taught me to see. Art and artists taught me to see more...and better...
and to appreciate, savor and protect."
Linda Durham, Still Moving
My connection to nature as a life-giving resource is rooted in my choice to live close to the land in the Rocky Mountain Range of the American West. Recently, my growing concerns about climate crisis have influenced my art, as have political divisions across the globe and the erosion of rights women have fought to secure. With these concerns on my mind, the Pandemic was the catalyst for my “Warrior Women” series. In my work, I emphasize the collective power and determination of women globally and historically. I see our connection to the earth as an essential resource for our own health and that of our families and communities. At times, I find myself overwhelmed by the realities of inaction and injustice evident daily in our world of social media and soundbites. Art making is a a way to communicate about my fears and anxieties. Another resource is to sit in my garden or walk in the woods or by the river.
In my artwork, I create dream landscapes that are places of healing and empowerment. In my series “Warrior Women” I start with vintage photographs of women taken in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. My medium, collage, is a process of deconstructing and reassembling. I remove each woman from the constraints of her time and locality and place her in a nurturing landscape outside the bounds of everyday reality. In building the dream landscape, I carefully select each piece to reflect and honor her story.
I have always been drawn to portrait photography, knowing that a photograph is a moment in time, a real person with a unique story. The photographs I find are embedded within an historical and cultural context. Some portraits occur within the experience of privilege while others are shaped by colonization and exploitation. I seek to amplify women’s voices past and present and reclaim the undervalued stories of women’s everyday experiences. I research the achievements and struggles of women during each particular historical moment and locality to envision a framework for each piece of art. I use found images from magazines, books and online resources combined with paint, handmade papers, and text from old books to evoke a textured layering of desires, hopes and dreams. Through my art, I intend to create a narrative of connection and safety, of a way forward. I build up a rich landscape that safely “holds” each woman where she is connected physically, emotionally and spiritually to the animals, plants, and the landscape. I’m very conscious of my own feelings of connection as I surround her with the abundance and beauty of nature. She may be alone but is confident and at home. Perhaps I know that she will need this connection to persevere. Historically women have always played a large role as environmental activists, protectors, and peace keepers. I know the power of imagining a “safe space” that we experience with our inner eye and sense in our body. Ultimately, I hope my work will evoke the viewer’s own feeling of being in close relationship with our natural environments.
As a psychotherapist, I have witnessed the incredible resiliency of human beings to heal and reach toward wholeness. In my art, I seek to reflect that part of the human spirit. My hope is that the viewer will also enter the dreamscape I have created as a place of renewal and self-revelation.
I offer my gratitude to all the photographers, known and unknown, whose work is a catalyst to my creative process.
Healing Our Inner Child
I have always used art-making as a way to imagine possibilities and bring attention to my concerns about the world. Although I have worked in many mediums over the years, I have focused mainly on Collage over the past 12 years. Through collage I am able to select images and reassemble them into a new story. I work in an intuitive way letting the images “speak” to me. I have taught this process for many years to a diversity of people from young children to the elderly and I have observed that most find it to be a very appealing and natural way to create.
In March 2020 when the pandemic shut everything done, I found myself with more time to create art and also to worry about what the future might hold. I chose Mixed Media, combining collage and painting as a way to express all that I was feeling and thinking. This was the catalyst for my “Healing Our Inner Child” Series. One of my concerns is Climate Change and how it could affect the lives of children now and in the future, including my own grandchildren. Having raised my children close to the land and having lived in Montana the past 45 years, I see our natural environment as essential to our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
In this series, I select old black and white pictures of children from the early time of photography, the 1800’s through early 1900’s. These images “speak” to me in some way and I want to create story about them. I then add images from magazines, books, and online resources combined with handmade papers, text from old books and paint to create a layering of hopes and dreams. I envision children comfortable, safe and immersed in their environments. They are at home with the animals, plants and the natural landscape. I create a rich environment that is a metaphor for the safety, abundance, and connection that I wish for all children around the world. On another level, I hope the works connect with the viewer’s own “inner child” and evoke the same feeling of being in close relationship with the beauty of the natural world.