The Target series addresses the personal and public impact of gun violence. I have devoted 3 years to symbolically depict the intimate personal loss from these events.
I was broken hearted by the Stockton school shooting, which took place over 28 years ago, but Sandy Hook was the final impetus compelling me to visually express the loss of these ‘small targets’.
Sadly, targeted violence has become a societal constant. Google depicts documents of shooting incidents with drop pins on maps- too numerous to count, each overlapping pin blocking memories of a prior event- a parallel to our overloaded consciousness – we collectively forget the impact of each personal loss.
The Target seemed an obvious symbol to represent the random acts of violence, suggesting a predator setting aim on a focused subject. Beginning my research three years ago, the intended topic was school shootings, but quickly evolved to include relevant examples of social violence such as: Black Lives Matter, the Pulse nightclub massacre, Dallas Police shootings, and violence rooted in religious persecution.
The layering of content is as interesting to me as the layers of brushstrokes. This combined focus is ever engaging for me as a painter. Expressing the effects of light and color on forms is a constant in my process, no matter the subject. Specific to this series, I purposed strong physical surface texture to provide a tumultuous subtext.
Aesthetically, the works that represent a specific shooting are intentionally uncomfortable, many of these developed over a collaged target, less concerned with a formally pleasing composition. Unintentionally, these works developed much darker palettes due to the level of emotional involvement in their creation.
I remain as shocked at the thought of children as targets as I was by that first incident so long ago, and hope that these works will evoke similar emotions for those who view my work. Ultimately desiring to stir awareness and spur dialogue for solutions to this complicated dilemma. If ignored, we are all possible ‘Targets.’
I echo the Dutch ‘vanitas’ with their rich tradition of symbolism via ordinary objects. Universal struggles of hope, vanity, faith, loss, & memory are implied through my own personal iconography. I concur with Max Beckman who stated, “In order to get something universal you must be very specific.”
All Things Texas
The Texas Skies studies naturally evolved out of my series of small town Water Towers.The dominating presence of the stark horizon is the aspect I love most in Texas landscapes.The silhouetted forms delineated against the sky allow subtle glimpses of the environments existing below the ever changing cloud forms & brilliant colors of days end.
The water towers of small Texas towns have always held my interest. Their presence on the horizon is an image of identity for these smaller communities; essential iconography of the small Texas town. The angles, play of light on the forms, and the stark contrast with the forever changing Texas skies cause me to revisit them as a subject.
This series was partially in response to our cultural obsession with ‘reality TV’ portraying human existence in fabricated situations. The ‘Survivor’ portraits address the true reality & responses to everyday real life experiences.
These portraits are singular ‘snapshots,’ reflecting a particular season of struggle. These paintings are not meant to define the subject or judge their situation, rather to record a ‘defining moment’ of human struggle.A true survivor bends with trials; gaining strength & wisdom.
These works were generated from personal experience and observation. Since I was a child I have had a certain affinity for interior spaces. I was fascinated by the paths of hot Texas sunlight that bleached the rooms in our house. The ominous dark corners and hallways of evening intrigued me. I found my own private worlds at play in the closet, under tents made from dining room chairs and old sheets, or laying beneath the kitchen table during long, adult conversations.
I observed a great many contradictions about the role of women in these domestic spaces. Messages were conflicting. The matriarchs of my family were strong minded and accomplished (often in areas which were not considered to be women’s territory at the time), yet their days were filled with “woman’s work.” Their strengths were well concealed within the outward trappings of a “good” wife and mother.
Growing older I gained an interest in the complexities of human relationships. As I studied them and looked inward, I became intrigued by the patterns of communication we develop from our subconscious observations as children. I recall that while playing under the table as a child, I had an awareness of covert expressions of anger, double entendres and innuendoes that were communicated in the space between steaming cups of coffee above me. I may not have listened to or comprehended a word, but my unconscious senses were awakened to the emotions that spilled over the edges of the table to my world.
Feelings of fear, love, mistrust and guilt as well as role expectations can be communicated and received quite subtly. I attempt to express in my work these subtleties of communication within the context of my past interiors. My “domestic landscapes” are autobiographical narratives which depict aspects of memory, psychologically charged interiors and the portraiture of specific objects from these memories and places. I call on the askew realism of dreams and the imaginative realm of the child’s mind to manipulate the representation of specific images from my memory. I produce unfamiliar environments from the familiar with dramatic “film noir” lighting, odd color usage and the baroque distortion of western perspective. Most of the situations are drawn from a low vantage point – a “child’s eye view.”
Pulling images from memory has interesting and unexpected effects on the directions these works. In attempting to depict aspects of memory, I create elements of distortion, simultaneous viewpoints and symbolic imagery of my childhood; tricycles, coffee cups, paper airplanes, lit and unlit candles, dominoes and other adult game pieces. These symbols in my paintings are usually the most specific visual queues that trigger memories, whereas the interiors are composites of individual details of various spaces; lighting effects, wall papers, door knobs, shag carpet, tile, etc.
The personal ‘effects’ of those we love and interact with have significance for me. These objects can trigger memories charged with a vast array of emotions. In some instances even stand as a metaphor for a specific relationship.
“It is easier for me to paint than to write about it.
And I would so much rather people would look at them than read about it.”
I felt I could never adequately put into words what my heart wanted to express of the discovery & wonder of my journey into motherhood.
The journal entries are a record of all I observed of these new individuals. Studying their image, every curve of their faces or ‘perfectly- imperfect’ wrinkle of an ear. The toys and activities they loved gave me insight into who they were. Some of the entries speak of hardship, which we all grew through: illness, grief and the expressions of child-like faith these brought to us all.
These reflections were recorded purposefully, for my children to know how amazingly richer my life became with them in it.