With my work, a pendulum swings between painstaking figurative endeavors and lighter, more playful - improvisational works. With the figurative and representational works, there is the labor that comes with drafting and the patience to learn from mistakes and make improvements. However with the improvisational bodies of work, there is a different kind of learning at play: a confidence that comes with abandon. It’s more athletic and gutsy. It's nimble and quick and sometimes ferocious. The thinking mind gets wrapped up in the execution of a gesture rather than what the gesture means. These bodies of work are often distillations of technique or skill, pushed beyond rigid control and imbue lightness and levity to the page.
The work from In This Garden came out of a reaction to my previous body of work, Seeking Fragrance. I had been longing for a calligraphic speed in the expression of my ideas. Something akin to ice skating, where, of course, the discipline takes years to master, but the execution (on command) requires a fearless abandon that results in the appearance of effortlessness and a belief that flying is possible. So to speak.
There were external societal influences affecting the work as well. Ideas about generosity and hopefulness, good news and optimism in the face of very dark times . . . these thoughts are insistent and consuming for many of us. And like every body of work I have ever made, I wanted the work to represent how I feel and in turn reflect the time we live in. I wanted to feel as though I were flying. Or dancing. I specifically wanted a body of work that did not feel like labor or the reflection of some accomplishment.
I wanted a body of work that resembled the lure of the unknown: a moonlit path through a forest - attractive enough to trust as it guided me to salvation. Narratively, I would cross through brambles, swamps and doubt, but also, the light shimmering enough to illuminate the clearing through the woods. In This Garden. How far away was the day? I did not know.
All of this was made possible through restorative hours spent gardening last Spring and Summer. After living in Japan for a few years, there were things I missed about my life in Portland. Specifically, my studio and the freedom to work as large as I wanted. And my garden - where tending to floral life, fostering bird and insect habitat - brings me wild creative inspiration. I watched plants that I had planted nearly a decade ago come back and show themselves to me. The cantilever of the tall lilacs shading the spindly winterhazel. The lime green against the deep red. The forest of cosmos sprouting throughout the Summer and Fall; a steady stream of pollen to be harvested. There is glory in that kind of life and feeling deeply connected to its well-being. It is shared. So I took it back to my studio.