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Announcement: Simply Elemental Artist Proposals deadline is May 15, 2017 Learn more
Artist's Statement: By using forms that echo themselves in the natural world, I explore the symbiotic relationship between humans and their environment. My work emphasizes humanity in a vulnerable state - a fragile organic element within nature. I print my photographs on handmade paper and place them within amplified natural forms that fill and structure our surroundings but go unnoticed by people in their everyday lives-- taking in the images, colors, and forms to envision the organic piece in its basic form. By taking inconspicuous elements that are at the core of much larger objects, such as a pod or leaf, and exploding them in size, my work takes these objects out of their immediate context to evoke a sense of the larger issues we must confront.
As a whole the works reflect the fragility of our existence within the confines of the world around us, from our nascent stages, through virility, and eventually cycling through reproduction and regeneration. I take the viewer through the seasons while delving into a narrative told through Mother Earth, Man alone, Man & Woman, the Cradle of Life and finally to the original seed pod form of life’s beginnings.
I begin the process by growing my own fiber at my property in Floyd, VA, along the Blue Ridge Mountains. Cattail, bamboo, banana, asparagus, okra and iris will be harvested at different times of the year, capturing an array of different colors and textures. Some of these will be snow-retted throughout the winter, entering into a cycle of freezing, defrosting, and re-freezing. Each fiber is cooked down and stored until ready to be beaten, either by hand or in a traditional Hollander beater, where the fiber can properly expand. With clean water and cellulose fiber, a sheet of paper is “pulled,” where a molecular cohesion occurs for the fibers to attach and produce a strong sheet of paper. This process is derived from a papermaking technique originally created by the Chinese over 2,000 years ago. I also use the fibers to embed objects, pulp paint, and sculpt creating texture and energy, reminiscent of the natural forms.
I incorporate pulp painting using natural dyes such as indigo, alkanet, sandalwood, madder and chochineal. Recently, I’ve been experimenting using dyes from flower petals; they create an array of beautiful, natural soft tones in my pulps. In addition, I create tones from my grasses, hostas, artemesia, water lily leaves, and iris leaves by cooking them at the height of their chlorophyll – giving me a wonderful range of green and yellow tones.
I do use the technologies of today; they are critical tools for me, but I use them to harken back to the natural forms I incorporate and create in my handmade paper. The digital photographs I take of my surroundings and inspirations within nature are edited in Photoshop and printed on a large format printer to create archival pigment prints on my handmade paper. In a time where technology tends to steal one away from nature, I use technology to draw the viewer back in and highlight the importance of their role in nature.
In experiencing the transformation of the fibers from seed to artwork, I realize my own vulnerable state. Through trial and error, I have learned that nature can have a huge effect on how fiber looks and feels and I have had to adapt and use these changes. It is an amazing feeling to work with these plant materials, and I welcome sharing my work and experience with all of you.
For more information about BRAA, please go to www.blacksburgart.org or visit the Community Arts Information Office on College Avenue in Blacksburg. The artists of BRAA eagerly share their work with the local community. If you wish to purchase a piece, please contact the artist directly.