As an ardent traveler and naturalist, my work documents the essence of places – the land, sky, water, soil, plants, or wildlife. I am intensely curious about the why’s, how’s and what’s of planet earth: why does water look like it does and how does it change from place to place and hour to hour? What causes iridescence in bird feathers? Why does a sunset in the South Pacific look different than a sunset in the Northwest? My curiosity informs and shapes my work: that which is interesting is inspiring. In one place I might create works capturing the colors of the seas or the sky, in another the patterns moss creates lacing along rocky outcroppings, in a third, the myriad of colors of the native birds. Although I am documenting the essence of places, my work is non-representational. Instead I create my experience of a place. As a result, my work is intensely personal in that first I am creating a record of what I feel makes a location on this planet unique, and second because that record is not exact, but is shaped through the lens of my vision.
With silk-weaving as my medium, I use complex layers of color and pattern to create visually dense, texture-saturated, tapestry-like works. I must constantly expand known weaving and dyeing methods as the images I work to create become more intricate. For example, desire to find the right method to create the experience of iridescent bird feathers has required ever-finer silk thread, plus hand-painting thousands of individual threads, then layering multiple levels of those threads into a weaving to fool the eye into seeing iridescence. Unlike production weaving, weaving of this type is a slow, meticulous and exacting, labor-intensive process. As a result, my sense of time is quite different from many other artists and weavers: a piece often takes months or even years, instead of hours or days, to complete. The more refined my work becomes, the fewer pieces I create each year.
I use silk thread exclusively because silk, although very challenging, has unsurpassed light reflecting and color saturation properties. Using native as well as exotic natural dyes I create a wide palette of muted, subtle shades on silk thread; much like the patina of the old masters’ pigmented paints, natural dyes give silk a muted lushness. To produce rich, intense jeweltones, I use Jacquard acid dyes. With these dyes, in addition to vat-dye (or tub-dye) methods in which the dyes are mixed much like ingredients for a pot of soup, I also use a technique in which the dyes are mixed like watercolors and painted onto the silk threads before being woven. In this method, a more painterly effect is created in the finished weaving. In either case, I control the process from beginning (raw, uncolored silk thread) to the end.
Creating my bio-geographical “fingerprints” requires an eye for the exceptional, weaving and dyeing technical proficiency, a devotion to details, a tolerance for delayed gratification, and very patient patrons. However, the end result is works in which one can become lost in the essence of a well-loved, familiar place, or be captivated and transported by the experience of the exotic.