After living abroad for 26 years, I returned to my native country. The urban places where I resided as a migrant contrasted with the rural tranquility where I grew up in and eventually returned to live. The buildings and noisy, crowded streets are replaced by forests, creeks and farm fields. I look up at the sky, seeing storms roll in, mists rise from the creeks, fogs descend and will o’ the wisps on the mountainsides. The night sky is particularly special. I observe and listen, distinguishing between silence and the sounds of quiet.
H48 x W24 inches
The dark that falls over the earth during an eclipse can cause fear; the blocked sun seen as an omen. On January 6, DC’s wide avenues gave rioters a clear path to storm the Capitol. For several hours, I wished for some barrier to hold back the insurrectionists. When creating the fabric for Eclipse (Insurrection), I chose to rough-print maps of Pierre L’Enfant’s street plan for Washington in the shapes of mountains to represent barriers I wished had held. My artwork is humanist and explores social topics, almost never political issues. But the events of January 6 are simply too serious not to have made a statement.
Responding to nature, the series of six art quilts surveys change over the course of a year of walking along creeks. I feel a strong kinship to the creek stones. With a trajectory much like my migrant life, the current picks up and moves rocks, dropping them somewhere to settle for a time. The rocks may be picked and moved again to settle in yet another place. I collected creek stones and traced their shapes on white fabric to accompany other fabrics that reflect seasonal changes of land, forest, water and sky. The stones became metaphors for people who are dispersed, their reactions to change and how they read cultures other than their own: resident, migrant, refugee, expat, exile.
Mole & Henge
H56 x W 64 inches
Four times in two years, I witnessed a mysterious and mystical “henge” phenomenon in Seoul. The sight gave me understanding and a connection with ancient henge-builders. What appeared to be a vertical line of light in the sky near the horizon, was, in fact, sun reflecting through a glass elevator on the outside of a building miles away; the building was invisible in the smoggy air, but the shaft of light was brilliant.
As well as intriguing sky sights, Seoul has a vast and fascinating “doppelganger” city underground with the Metro, subterranean passages, restaurants and all manner of shops and arcades. I assume this second city is to provide shelter in case of an attack by North Korea (35 miles to the north). With no maps, negotiating this underground labyrinth requires learning the navigational skills of a mole.
Pair of meter-square art quilts with nature-derived and man-marked imagery. This (the gray of absence) ties lines made by moving my camera to photograph distant lights over Lake Lugano to images related to creeks, streams and rivers. That (where shadows are deep) repeats the night light lines of Lugano in Ticino with human-made intentional and unintentional marks on old walls.
Simple rock outlines scatter across an austere background like stones carried by streams, landing where they may. Knowing the power of stripped-down design of line & outline, Erasure is the first of a series of simple abstract designs using painted tracings of rocks from the creeks I walk every day. Simple shapes speak both to the stones picked up by currents and moved to other places and the hollow emptiness of the old gone-place. The symbolic relationships between this random natural occurrence reflect my interest in and concern with displacement—people dispersed, who must respond to change.
Two mixed media art quilts, one in absolute neutrals and the other in subdued earth colors, portray nature-based themes. In each fiber work are almost hidden evidence of the hand of humans: baked bread, architecture, written texts.