My work is expressive of my deep and abiding love for diversity within people, places, textures, patterns, and colors. Although I work in many different media including printmaking, painting, fiber, and performance, the continuity in my work is inherent in the inclusiveness, curiosity, and love that it expresses.
I open myself to the influence of others and I engage with many contexts and traditions. I have elaborated on these influences in thematic series of work, which have focused on the perseverance of people in establishing human and equal rights for women and people of color, and the survival of our earth. Many of my works contrast vitality versus death, as expressed in nature and the body. Bold saturated colors, patterns, and disparate images are reflective of my love for textiles from Africa, and imagery such as mandalas from Asian art.
I take inspiration from the human form, sometimes combining different bodies or parts of bodies together in a choreographic manner. Circling and squirreling energy creates a meditative composition. I alternate between photographic and hand drawn media with intaglio printmaking. When people see my work, I want them to experience beauty and vitality and to see colors pop and patterns vibrate. I want viewers to feel joy, excitement, curiosity, and maybe even eroticism. When I’m working, I risk something to create something new. Each project is an experiment.
I have always found a disconnect between the representation of women and the women that one experiences in real life. I explore in many media ways that women can be and do engage with the world. When I created the “Ophelia Rising” series, I bookmarked myself in midlife in relation to women of other generations: my mother, young women in their twenties, and older women. “Ophelia Rising” is a print series that focusses on women’s gestures framed by the space of a bathtub, a locus of intimacy suggestive of the womb, and drawn from art historical paintings. I interpolate Ophelia into a contemporary context, representing her through young women of color, my own Jewish body, and two elder women of various races. In my work, I transform this character from the teenage victim of insanity and suicide into a woman who claims her sensuality, faces attacks on human rights, and experiences the full cycle of human life. Ophelia represents any woman who is generative and can overcome what life brings her, rather than succumb to oppression, rejection, and heartbreak.
Another recent project is a 12ft by7ft cyanotype “American Family Flag.” I did not start out with the intention of making a flag, but I wanted to assemble many textures and motifs from fabrics collected over the years and also images of my family. We moved from Philadelphia to New Hampshire to care for my dying stepfather. Having lived in big cities, I realized that this landscape was becoming a pervasive part of my consciousness similar to how the urban environment had informed the rhythms of life. I responded to the seasons and the changing terrain of the New Hampshire landscape, especially the winter. This sensitivity to landscape and a consideration of the climate crises, as well as the impact of the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, influenced my project and I started to piece together individual pieces to make a giant flag. My stepfather died and I had a heightened awareness of mortality. I juxtaposed images of him and the period when I was pregnant, the newborn baby, and the racial diversity of my family as a blend of Jewish and African American. It seemed that our multifaceted family reflected many American stories and could represent something beyond that specific group.
My “Fire and Ice Mandala” project was to create a performance on the lake where I live: Franklin Pierce lake in rural Hillsboro, NH. Throughout the year, the lake is both valued and used as a meeting space for my local community. I made a monumental mandala drawing with brightly colored sand and using elements of fire to bring people together in a ritualistic event that honored those who have died due to the Covid-19pandemic. Working with a fire dancer, I activated the 100-footcircular mandala and moved around its circumference. Two weeks later, I recreated this performance using ash to draw the mandala on a frozen pond at Bethel Farm Yoga in collaboration with Steve Bethel, Ripplee the fire dancer, and many other participants. These works helped to bridge some of the differences across all political divides so that we can focus on what is life-affirming and what is respectful of our dead.