The first year is over! I am currently an MFA candidate in Glass at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale working under Professor Jiyong Lee. This has been a year of changes and challenges, one of which has been to develop new work outside of the bird narrative that has become my vernacular over the past ten years. My intent is not to dismiss birds from my work but rather to expand my voice; I have several ongoing projects with the birds that are large endeavors and are still on the cards.
The first semester was spent in one week projects, my colleague, Kit Paulson, and I made a work every week to critique with class; an intense period of time with failures and successes, learning about myself as an artist, how I process thought, and abilities to produce work in a short amount of time. A work significant to me from this period of one week projects is Torso, a self-portrait comprised of layers of buff tracing paper, resembling skin tissue. A self-associative symbol, body part, or an object that is a personal representation of time or place, is drawn on each layer using graphite and ink and including some interjections by my four-year-old daughter. Originally this drawing was displayed sandwiched between two panes of glass, like a slide frame, and hung from the ceiling, but will be reworked as a light box.
A month into the second semester we had our first year review for which I presented a blown glass work entitled ‘To Feed You’ an ode to motherhood, a milk jug encrusted with glass nipples. This was a turning point which lead me to the work I am currently making. I began drawing with fervor, using the same scrolls of buff, skin-like paper that I used in my torso self-portrait but in dense, dripping sumi ink. I’ve created my own language again with intense repetitive nipples, each drawing is a story, a narrative in form. From this self-study through drawing I have been developing sculptures in both blown glass assemblages and kiln cast forms.
These forms with life castings of my own nipples represent the private moments of motherhood and the duality of the mother as both sexual being and nurturer of children. Motherhood is comprised of private moments and effected by the public sphere. My work is a celebration of everyday life as a mother, parenting is repetitive and gross, beautiful and a constant source of amazement. The dividing forms represent a division of self, the division of a mother’s life before and after babies and the struggle to retain self-identity throughout; also physically, the division of child from mother’s body and post birth attachment. The forms swell and grow out of the wall, they absorb light and color shift throughout the day, and even seem awake at night, like icons they cast a benevolence in to the room.
I’ve begun using my home as a sort of installation space, observing them throughout the day, how they effect and are effected by their environment. Major changes in my life have had me reflecting too on home. A woman, a mother, grandmother, great grandmother, that I met recently said something important to me, that the main role of a parent is to be home to your child. Home in a family, home in a partner, home in friendship, home in oneself.