Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"Waxing On" in an interview by Misti Wilson

An email Interview by Misti Wilson for my upcoming exhibition in Germany.
Curator and Art advisor for the upcoming exhibition:

"Kick-ass" - Kunst unter 100
Freitag, 11. April 2008
19:00 - 23:00 Uhr
Eigelstein Torburg, Köln

1. When did you start making artwork?
Although not documented for future publishing, I believe my first mixed-media masterpiece was created at the age of four. My father had a large container of wood glue on his work bench in the garage. I safely traversed a mountain of sharp tools to acquire this choice medium. With two hands, I squirted the glue in a Jackson Pollock influenced flourish over the entire garage floor. I chose kitty litter to pour over the top of the glue as the sculptural element. My brush was a large, floor broom. The result was quite stunning. My parents were proud.

2. What inspires your artwork?
Nature and my childhood. I grew up in central Illinois in the corn-belt. Surrounding my country home were flat fields of corn and soybeans. Surrounding the fields were overgrown ditches of tall grass and weeds. I built many forts and structures to escape, daydream and hide my collected treasures. Any plant or grass that can only be seen by lying on your belly is an inspiration.

3. Can you describe your process?
I’m a collector. I am inspired by the tiniest plant, patterns, repetition and rusty, antique tools. My recent body of work uses Encaustic as the primary medium. I carve all of my botanical figures out of the wax with a scribe and fill in the line with pigmented wax to create a wax inlay.

4. Can you explain how you come up with titles and why
you choose to title your work?

I think my titles are getting better. I use to be pretty sparse and direct such as "Dig" or "Spring". I still have a tendency toward simplicity, however, the poet and writer Wendell Berry has been a positive influence. I’ll make a piece and then spend some time reading his poems or stories. This helps me change my language from the visual to verbal. Most of my pieces have little nick-names that I give them that are a bit less romantic and are just for me. Sort of like the nicknames you give to an ex-boyfriend or nosey neighbor, but they are probably kinder.

5. How do you see your work evolving in the future?

Bigger and more sculptural. I would also like to create environments and installations that incorporate sound and technology.

6. Is there a particular size or medium you prefer
working in?

I have been working small scale. I loved making the 5" x 7" pieces for this show. It keeps me simple and direct. My background is in Intaglio printmaking. That has been an obvious influence on my current choice of working with encaustic medium. You can do much of the same effects in encaustic as you do in intaglio.

7. Please describe your studio where you work. Is it
chaotic, organized, in the city, suburbia or

One word for my studio: Disaster. When I’m in creating mode I do the strangest and graceless things. I have wads of blue painter’s tape stuck to my wall. It would be just as easy to throw it away, but "whap" I stick it to the wall. I kick things to the side, step on stuff, stack things precariously knowing a disaster is about to ensue. My studio is my second bedroom in a small 1930’s bungalow in an old part of Bakersfield, CA. My studio seeps out into my living and dining room. I have orange, electrical cords snaked to different outlets because I’ve blown too many fuses. Right now, my dining room table is full of little wires with wax tips, collage papers, bills, dried plants and an empty cereal bowl pushing up into this mountain of stuff. Oh my, I think I have shared too much.

8. Do you listen to music while working?

I listen to music during different phases of my work. During the creative, thinking, planning and concentrating phase I like complete silence. During my favorite time, "carving time" I blast the tunes. I’m a hard-core folk music lover! Oh yes, you can rock to folk, let me tell you.

9. When working, what feelings do you feel?
I feel a mixture of emotions. I can feel excited, anxious, angry, frustrated, giddy, content and peaceful all during one sitting. It is like having a relationship with each piece.

10. How do you know when a piece is finished?
I have a physical reaction. I remember going on a two-week road trip by myself from Illinois to Montana. I had just finished reading the book, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values" by Robert Pirsig. During this self-proclaimed chautauqua, I had beautiful moments while sitting quietly in nature. One memorable moment was in the South Dakota Badlands and another on Avalanche Trail in Glacier National Park, Montana. I remember feeling my chest open up as if I were gasping inside. Honestly, that is what I feel when I create a pivotal piece. They are not all like that or need to be like that as each piece informs my next. Sometimes I just get a smile that says, yes, that is right.

11. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about
your work?

I’m interested in patterns, connections, relationships and opposites. Recently, I had my friend Sue over for wine and to talk art. She asks the best questions that always pull me out of my head. We were talking about a work of mine called "Together as One." In this piece I had taken pages from a braille book and glued them to two wood panels. I then did a graphite rubbing over the braille so you could "see" the words. I then poured a layer of wax over the pages. I followed that by carving in images of pointy thistles. I liked the idea of seeing what you should feel and feeling something smooth that should be pointy. She said that sounds like synesthesia. Synesthesia is a neurologically-based phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory. That is when I discovered I had a form of synesthesia. When my eyes are closed, I see distinct colors for each defined sounds or tones I hear. Thanks to Sue, I had a profound moment of connection to who I am and what I do.