I am a jewelry designer and fabricator. Working in a three-dimensional medium such as metal is a natural extension of my work with mixed media collage. Like my collages, most of my jewelry pieces are one-of-a-kind, simply because I love to find out what happens when I follow a new idea to its conclusion.
My inspiration comes from many sources Ė nature, my travels, my collages, and from the visual smorgasbord that greets me every time I walk out the door. I am a certified instructor in PMC (precious metal clay), which is powdered pure silver mixed with an organic binder. Once Iíve designed and formed a piece, I fire it in a jewelry kiln. The binder burns away, leaving a solid piece of .999 fine silver. Often, I oxidize my pieces to give them depth and dimension. I also work with traditional sheet metal and find that each medium presents its own unique set of challenges and rewards.
For most of my adult life, Iíve been a writeróof memoir, personal essay, feature stories and radio commentary. While taking an art course several years ago, I discovered collage, and I was hooked. In collage I found a creative outlet that allows me to say things I canít put into words, either because the vocabulary doesnít exist or the impulse to communicate comes from a place that precedes language.
To learn more about this art form that enchanted and challenged me, I sought guidance from excellent teachers such as internationally recognized collage artist Jonathan Talbot, with whom I studied in 2002. A year later, I studied with British painter Francis Pratt at his art school in Montmiral, France. I returned to the painting school in the summer of 2005, drawn by the beauty of the French countryside and the inspiration of fellow artists.
I work by starting with an idea, feeling or image that compels me. I have no specific outcome in mind when I begin a collage, and the end result is sometimes a surprise to me. The finished piece is a composition more spontaneous than writing and one that evolves as Iím creating it. Sometimes I donít like the result and Iíll revise the collage one or more times. Just like writing, some collages come together fairly quickly and others require several more drafts. For materials, I use acrylic paint, found objects, paper and my own photographs. I use found objects from natureósuch as lichen, feathers, dried flowers or barkóand also from discarded man-made materials such as a piece of rusted metal, a small glass tile or a button. These objects are at once both familiar and mysterious when used in a different setting.
My work has been shown in juried shows in Durham and Chapel Hill. One of my collages, 'Memory of Eden,' was the cover for the March 2005 issue of the English Journal.
Photography also has been a passion for years and borders on obsession. I take my camera wherever I go, because there might be that one perfect shot just waiting for me to stumble upon. I mourn the ones that got away - like the breathtaking sight (on a recent trip to France) of two stags facing off at the crown of a golden, newly mown wheat field, pawing the ground and lowering their heads. I shrieked at my husband, who was driving, 'stop, quick; I have to take this photo.' But when we were able to turn around and return to the magical spot, the stags had vanished into a wooded area bordering the field. What a magnificent photo that could have been. But there will be others and that's what motivates and challenges me and keeps me going.