It may seem that I have two very different personas, one relating to my artwork and spiritual deepening, and one relating to an academic career as a professor of design history. I’ve always been a synthesizer, and each part enriches the other.
I was a professor in the Design Studies Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1984 to 2011 (I have a Ph.D in design history). While there, I taught a variety of classes relating to our designed environment: textile and fashion history and appreciation, and world dress; material culture; global perspectives on design and culture; design thinking and problem-solving. My scholarly research focused on the meanings of objects in people’s lives. I still love teaching and offer lectures and participatory workshops in a variety of venues. I am available to craft new classes.
My professional experience also includes work in museums as an exhibit curator and textile interpreter. Several years at Hancock Shaker Village in the 1970s helped lead me to think about the intersection of the material and spiritual environment—and I’ve been concerned with it ever since.
I am a prolific writer. My most recent opus, Textiles: The Whole Story: Uses, Meanings, Significance (AKA The Fiber of Our Lives: Why Textiles Matter) is a heavily illustrated art book that approaches the subject comprehensively, across the world and across time. Articles have focused on topics as diverse as the meanings of souvenirs or a “backstage women’s space”—a community bathroom in the building where I worked. (See Writings: books, essays, to link to the text of these.) In addition to this professionally-focused work, I use writing to explore the inner and intuitive worlds. I write poetry (see Poetry) and playful prose, and regularly lead workshops on "writing from the inside"--evoking and strengthening our most creative voice. Some of my creative output shows up on my occasional blog (see Blog: Inner Nature Art Adventures).
In retirement, my attention shifts ever-more firmly to exploration of the inner world—the more mythic, spiritual realms. This pervades my artwork. I started in the 1960s as a fiber artist, but current work involves reconfiguration and re-contextualization—repositioning and reusing images in collage, for example, and recycling and re-imagining natural materials such as bone, shell, and driftwood, and using them in sculptural assemblage figures (see Artwork). I teach workshops that help participants use artmaking to access their own intuitive and deep-seated wisdom. I am a trained facilitator of SoulCollage®, and offer nature collage experiences. I am a hospice volunteer and certified end-of-life doula, and find the same themes pervade that arena as well: the awe and appreciation of the great mystery we are all a part of, and a growing understanding of our interconnectedness and oneness.