The ladders, sticks, and wall assemblages are created mainly from the detritus that I search for in my natural environment. I commonly use driftwood to visually and literally weave my constructions together. The bleached branches and fist-shaped knots are so intrinsically beautiful, it seems disrespectful to add marks or color, but I have to do it anyway. Although each of the works is individual, they share a common language of birds, fish, ocean, land, and sky. I didn’t even realize how dominant the birds were until I presented the full sweep of work in an exhibit.

This body of artwork divides into four major categories. “Stick Stories” are poles that can each stand alone or, as in one commission, are four posts for a bed. The “Ladders” are the three-dimensional evolutions from flat ladder images that appeared in my paintings. Each of the “Panel Series” is built on a wood background rescued from the original veneer walls of my house when we remodeled. “Windows” metaphorically frame the surrounding landscape.

Beach CombingI seem to need to hold a tangible object, feel its weight in my hand, then move forward, buoyed by the rhythm of the making. The discarded objects that I collect bring their histories to serve as material: wooden toys, feathers, corks, chopsticks, buttons, beads, hardware, wire, and assorted junk. Nature informs me: A tiny bird nest from a miniature pine forest. The shed skin of a Kingsnake. Grain-size luminescent shells from a Kauai beach.

The beach provides a significant source of materials and ideas. My tie to beaches began when I was a child living just footsteps from the ocean in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. The yet unspoiled shoreline was my playground until we moved close to Lake Michigan in Chicago where I remained until early adulthood. Now that I reside in northern California, I am close to the windswept beaches of the Pacific Ocean where I gather driftwood and ideas for my artwork.

Applying Resin to Driftwood
Applying Resin to Driftwood

My work has been shown, nationally and regionally, in both solo and group exhibitions. I have a formal education in art with BFA, MA, and MFA degrees. I continually seek a plethora of influences. Art museums are home to me. Tribal and native arts impress me with their clarity of purpose. I am drawn to locations that transport me to a primordial memory: the Grand Canyon, the Altamira Caves, the Mayan pyramids.

Before I started making assemblages in the 1990s, I did ceramic sculpture and detailed narrative watercolor paintings. I continue to select the medium that best expresses my ideas. I can’t imagine making art without the bright, saturated color that I see in the natural world. I make art to find out what it will look like and to give credence to my interior chatter.