My parents grew up under the British colonial system. And I have grown up under a version of the American one in its treatment of people of color and indigenous native Americans.
While my career as a landscape architect and feminist playwright allowed me to explore the dynamics of feminism, identity, and nature, it was through painting, printmaking and sculpture that I found a way to express unresolved notions of self and representation within the context of the colonial experience.
n my sculptures, I use materials such as shells, wood, chains, metals and fabric to reinforce a connection to the geography of those who have been physically and culturally dispossessed. Similiarly, in printmaking, I use archival colonialist images, old photos of my own family, and reliquiaries of vanished landscapes and extinct animals to unravel the manipulated perspectives that hid the truth of violence and anguish unleashed by the colonizers.
Concurrently, my artwork explores feminist issues of identity and suppression in a way that Audre Lorde calls bio-mythology.
My artwork explores feminist issues of identity in what Audre Lorde calls bio-mythology. In the works shown here, I have turned to images of fairy tales, enigmatic spirits, and animals whose powers are most naturally felt by women's bodies in empathy with the moon and earth, and whose expression of those powers are manifested in narratives of transformation, fertility, and survival. Women were thrown out of paradise for knowing too much which is why images of gardens, forest, animals have always been a part of work.
But now I also incorporate religious motifs, partly due to my religious upbringing which provides an image language with which I am most familiar. They act as an instant metaphoric trigger allowing others to recognize the dissonance that isolates women as submissive, weak, fit only for sex and burning.
In recent years I have become fascinated by birds . They have seen everything – cages, mines, oceans, mountains, jungles, cities. In the beginning, I combined Audubon’s birds posed in death with women painted by Sargent or religious images of women because they were also posed detached from the natural world. These were studies about the male gaze.
Recently my images have evolved into woman with wings whose faces are carved bird’s heads. Its the resurrection of another kind of being that is both tangible and intangible.
When I work, I know I am making an illusion – perspectival, mythical, referential through which the ideas and the energy of the piece are expressed. The external shape of the piece is a combination of the hidden and the visible. It is a semi-real construct of volume and color incorporated into the deeper illusion/allusion of memory, montage and meaning. Often I find a piece has made me, rather than the other way around.
Making art is to experience your own experience.