Excerpted from: ART TALK FEBRUARY 23, 2019
“WOMEN IN SILK: NOT WHAT YOU THINK” AND “LIFE SQUARED” AT SFWA
WHY I DO WHAT I DO
What drives me to create this work? When I was younger, I thought the world was progressive, moving forward, never backward.
Now I’m both astonished and delighted that at long last there is another wave of increased awareness about the ongoing exclusion and mistreatment of women.
As a young person growing up in the 60s through the 80s I watched and participated in a wave of progress in human rights. Not knowing better, I believed that political and social change are continuous and progressive.
I thought with the women’s movement that our progress was leaping ahead and my generation would at last achieve equality - that the world would not judge us by our bodies and treat us like second-class citizens. I was wrong. Now I know this is not so. But I see now that the old cliché one step forward two steps back is apt for much of life and obvious in our political climate. This is why resilience is so important.
The fight is still on and there is renewed energy. I continue to play my part through my art.
THE FEATURED SERIES
Three years ago I began this new phase of life as a full-time visual artist. I realized "It's never too late to do what you really care about - and it's important for me to create lively, provocative art".
The work on these walls (in the SFWA Artist Gallery exhibition) represents three series over several years. The first was the Silk Scroll series of seven scrolls (White and Color Block).
Next came the site-specific series of five “Banderas” (flags in Spanish) .
And most recently I produced the Life Squared series of small works on paper in shadowboxes, often they are collages and/or mirrored images.
A FEMINIST FIGURATIVE ARTIST
All of my work is purely figurative and unashamedly feminist. It’s about women, reclaiming our bodies, being proud and self possessed. It’s straightforward yet open to interpretation. My drawings are brisk, bold, gestural works made from short poses. I’m inspired by my models.
I often make multiple versions from one original. I choose the best of the bunch or there may be several editions that spring from the initial drawing. This is one way that I make the most of the digital drawing process and my need to experiment and see my options.
INTO YOUNG ADULTHOOD
The impetus for being an artist goes way back. I’ve always drawn people. From paper dolls to life drawing, my singular interest and focus is figurative. And I enjoy using all sorts of mark-making materials. I think I’ve tried just about every tool and technique out there. In fact the first art class I ever taught was called Marks on Paper to teach freshman art students about the many ways of using of art supplies and found materials.
As a creative director for many years I built campaign after campaign with teams of creatives. I conceived ideas and explored what words, images, and designs had the greatest impact. But I was not hands-on nor a techi.
I came around to using professional digital drawing tools for practical reasons. Without hauling around a car-load of art supplies I could switch from one tool or medium to another instantly. These are called “digital originals”. My process is the same for each piece, since I always start by drawing a live model.
David Hockney made digital art and process videos famous. I too can add, test, and remove layers and lines. I can include my photography so that the work becomes a collage. I can make multiple iterations and series, like monoprints.
I edit my work, scale it, and apply my artwork to a variety of substrates, from tiny to huge, and paper to fabric and metal. It’s important to experiment.
THE SCROLLS AND BANDERAS
The grand scale of these works makes the space feel alive with the figures. The fluidity of the fabric combined with the movement reflected in the drawings helps produce this life-like feeling, although the drawings are not intended to be realistic. They are meant to convey a personality and a relationship. They are not “model drawings” but more of a conversation with an individual.
THE BANDERAS SERIES
When I originally created the Banderas series it was for a site-specific installation in response to my residency at the Troll house.
I needed to express and insert a strong female presence – to take up space and touch the tips of a tall person’s head – to have an impact on the young male residents of this co-work space in Pier 26.
The arrangement of the five translucent banderas hanging from the ceiling creates a play of color, light, and shadow from the inside and the outside. Passersby could see this show while walking along the Embarcadero. The light filtered through the sheer chiffon and shifted the colors as they overlapped. I’d love to create a version of these pieces for an even larger space on a grander scale in a public building.
Besides light and shadow and content and form, color is a key factor in my work. I am in love with color!
COLLAGES & MIRROR IMAGES
When I create collages I combine my drawing with my photographs and painting to create a rich, layered affect. I continuously change the layers, photos, and colors until I’m satisfied. I’ve been photographing for decades, especially when traveling but now I have a place to include these images as part of a bigger picture.
POLITICS AND ART
Now some of my work is outright political and maybe even a little subversive, such as my “Burma Series”. This series comments on religious oppression, targeting a group of people as “the other”, and massive ousting of the Rohingya people by the Buddhist majority.
I have a series that features the struggle for Catalan Independence too. I spend a lot of time in the region and know it well, so I have conversations about the topic frequently. Most my work is not obviously political but still attempts to illicit a response.
“THIS IS MY MANIFESTO”
Backsliding, covering up, and our hard-won battles are still coming undone. Every expose is important for building a case to protect women from religious, sexual, political, social oppression, and abuse. We are all humans and we are all equal, naked, and striving to be free.
My work celebrates women.
I will see my narratives grow into gallery-size installations. In my upcoming art residency I have space to expand my scope, scale, and impact.