I work to communicate both highly personal and political messages in my art. I am either sharing something deeply personal, or I am sending out a political or social message calling for change. My mind and heart are always completely open to the viewer. While my pieces deal with very heavy themes, I use a playful hand to add levity to the subject and help the viewer feel more comfortable dealing with images that are very raw and intimate or issues that are difficult to think about or discuss. In But my Ring in Conflict Free (2011), I am posing a very direct question to the viewer about their consumer choices, hoping that someone may change their mind about their desire for a diamond.
In Lolita (2011), I use an image of myself at a tender age to explore the sexualization of young girls. Being this girl I remember how I was being treated like a woman, while looking back I see that I was very much still a little girl. I am sharing a vulnerable and honest feeling in this painting hoping to tap into the viewer’s own experience at that age.
My early pieces feature mainly political and social messages. I worked in politics from 1996-2010 and use that experience to inform my pieces that are meant to stimulate the mind of the viewer. For example, I participated in a sleep-in protest at the Wisconsin State Capital and took a photo of protesters making a peace sign with their bodies. I used that image as the basis for my painting Peace Riot (2010). In 2011, I was one of the painters in a group project that culminated in the permanent installation of The Green Initiative Mural on the Portland Community College Sylvania campus. I loved collaborating on a large scale piece that explored environmental concerns affecting the community.
Recently I have been focusing on blending political and social commentary along with the more personal in my work. I am influenced by artists who have taken on important issues and infused them with personal emotions, such as my two favorite artists Jean Michael Basquiat and Ai Wei Wei.
After I lost my father to cancer after a long battle, I began to create pieces that deal with illness, the process of dying and what comes next. Fever Dream House(2011) is a large interactive three dimensional sculpture that I built using the layout of a doll house, making each room representative of a stage of dying.
My photography is inspired by the outdoors. I have an ongoing project called Watching (2011-current), in which I carry my father’s broken watch with me when I go on adventures. When I feel his presence, or lack of it particularly heavily; I move the hands of the watch to the current time and take a photo. Sometimes, I set up a scene such as in Cairn Watching (2011), and Watching Plant (2012), as a kind of temporary memorial. In Tree Watching (2011), I created a dark, desaturated image capturing a moment of heavenly rest. In Watching at Yosemite Falls (2012), I set the watch up in front of a famous landmark. I used this tone to convey a feeling of nostalgia and sadness that the watch is only here to share in the moment symbolically. In Watching at Fourth of July Pass (2011), the watch stays on my hand to capture a snapshot along a tough hike. I wanted to communicate the feeling that he was watching out for me on some of the more perilous parts of the journey.