Each summer I spend a week with friends on an island off the coast of Deer Isle, Maine. While there is solitude there is also much time spent talking one on one or with shifting groups. These conversations, on random subjects, continue throughout the week with no definite conclusion or direction. Conversations about growing older link to how we see color, how to build a fire, to land surveying terms. Talking about making dinner connected to the tide, back to growing older, then move to the smell of beach plums and memory. Time, tide, fire, food, age, artifacts, loss, happiness, family, measuring, and love. The sounds and shapes of the voices, the movement of the conversations, have its own tidal effect and what starts as arbitrary chatting ends with order, all subjects intertwined, through the theme of memory, underlining the relationship between everything. This past year I was with a Disaster Relief team in Puerto Rico and during our long days working, I found myself documenting the stories people would tell about their lives before hurricanes Ida and Maria, during the storms, and after. Sitting with an interpreter and writing as quickly as I could, I would listen to people, write down what they told me, and hope it brought them an added comfort. After weeks of this process of listening and collecting, as during our island week, all their stories braided together and, because of the staccato rhythm from the interpreter, the sentences would repeat becoming almost a Rap telling the universal story of relationships of family, loss, rescue, love, and hope.
My work is an investigation of the malleable nature of memory, what we hold onto and what do we leave out in order to make our story. My interest in narrative and with a debt to the history of fresco painting, and that visual form of storytelling, I draw tangled rope and other beach flotsam to symbolize sorting through memory, or ladders and floats as time cessation and rescue, or water rushing through a familiar interior shows, because of grief, how something that was once comforting and familiar becomes unrecognizable and changed.
I continue using wooden panels covered with my recipe of materials that is a nod to the Roman’s genius of plastering. This surface when ground down and sanded creates a smooth, hard, but porous, veneer that reacts with paint having a similar effect as a fresco. Using casein emulsion, acrylic paints, gold leaf, graphite, oil stick, thread, beeswax, nails, varnishes, driftwood, tinted gesso’s, and whatever else I find on my studio tables, allows for much flexibility giving endless potential to heavily layer these materials to make a complex surface. Recently, I have also been working on paper, using mixed media collage. I appreciate paper’s versatility as it allows me to fold, distress, draw and gild. The color and surfaces of my work often refer to influences of early Italian work, but the symbols narrate my current stories.