Being asked to put all this in words was a challenge, but a very good one, since this kind of articulation is in itself a clarification. I liked having to talk about my broader life and my art in a single contextual whole. While my images were not selected, I decided to use this opportunity to share what I submitted with the application, using the project description and personal biography format that was called for.
It may seem like a lot of verbiage, but if you're interested, here's the whole thought-out statement. If not, I hope you enjoy the pictures!
I see the energy and the the inner light of everything in the world around me—in living beings, in nature, even in human-made objects and in what is deemed detritus or waste. Sensing or feeling this aliveness, I am excited, even awestruck. It’s difficult to capture this feeling, and even more difficult to communicate it to others, but I have found photography can provide a way to represent it and to share its magic.
I always have the camera with me and work on consciously paying attention, noticing what is around me. I work with it as a tool to focus in on design details or unusual perspectives; I literally use the viewfinder to isolate arresting forms and patterns. These images are not narrative; rather, they are concerned with something intangible and essential. This particular Inner Light project began when I noticed the intriguing refracted light patterns shining through the tail light covers on the cars on my street. I tried shooting them in various ways, but couldn’t quite capture what they felt like. Then, when I started playing with the Prisma app in the editing process, I found a way I could further bring out and evoke the ephemeral quality of intangible light I was interested in.
I am a mixed media artist, a writer, a teacher, a workshop leader, and (in often less-than- obvious ways) a healer. I am also a scholar, with a PhD in design history and decades of experience teaching design and design history—appreciation for and understanding of global artisanry, textiles, intimate objects, ritual objects, and many other forms of material culture. None of the things I do—art, teaching, writing, sitting with individuals as a hospice-based end-of-life doula—is primarily concerned with concepts; rather, I am interested in energies, essences, and interconnections. My work is idiosyncratic and hard to label—it is pulling from intuitive, superconscious realms.
Most of my visual art draws on reconfiguration—of forms, materials, textures, and images. While I was trained as a fiber artist and do integrate fiber in my work, I mostly now do collage and assemblage sculpture, typically incorporating natural detritus like bones, shells, and pods. I become intimate with my environments and their elements. While I spent most of my life getting to know northern lakes and woodlands, I currently live in semi-tropical southwest Florida, by the ocean. My dimensional pieces thus include everything from whitetail deer hooves to armadillo shells to bird beaks to fish tails, all of which are given a kind of new embodiment in my sculpted and flat work. The figures function almost as a kind of shamanic presence, invoking something from another world or dimension. My photographs also involve reconfiguration and connection with the environment.
Viewers are sometimes taken aback by my artwork, because it often causes a kind of double-take: what is that? What is it made of, or what exactly are we looking at? I appreciate that response, because I want the work to further viewers’ sense of wonder and curiosity. I want people to “see with new eyes,” to sense rather than think. I want them to get energy from my work, and to feel a kind of quickening. I want them to connect with the incredible form and ingenuity of nature, and to become excited about the world around them. I want the pieces to evoke what can’t quite be named or consciously understood—something evanescent.
My writing has taken many forms, including scholarly books and articles; poetry; and prose portraits that range from playful to poignant. As my workshops imply, I use writing to access different states of consciousness and discover new and deeper meanings. These too offer intimations of other realms. I like to combine words and images. The visuals do not function as direct illustrations, but as complements, getting at the same kind of energy. Overall, I believe that the creative experience, however it is manifest, is itself generative; it yields even more creative, imaginative vitality in the world, since like attracts like.
submitted for the Inner Light series included images of the natural world, of human-made objects, and even parts of the environment we might find uncomfortable or try to avoid, such as dead fish on the beach. Everything, even dead or seemingly inanimate things can come alive in this work.
I hope you feel the sense of aliveness and light.