Artist Statement for Vestiges:
A few years ago, walking on a foggy, craggy moor in central England, I realized that there must be many places around the world (like that very moor) that --despite their geographic location--can feel like home, the true home of my senses and feelings.
For each of us, these places will be different--but in certain surroundings, particular to our own experience--we sense that we belong, and feel special creative energy. There are aspects of the color, the texture and the features of these places that resonate in our souls. The vestiges of these places that linger in our minds are far more than just mental pictures of a scene or beautiful landscape. They are sensual and emotional memories, mingled with other moments in our lives when we felt this special connection. On that moor in England, for example, I remembered wandering in nature as a child, and my love of rocks and wild places. I felt at home with a core aspect of myself, though I was physically far from my own country.
The way I express this kind of experience is through the creation of complex, layered surfaces. I build these up with many layers of color and texture—and also with parts selectively washed out, scraped and scratched away, so that traces of earlier layers are revealed. The resulting images symbolize the layered experience of memory, and express an essence of the rough, weathered landscapes and structures that I love.
The work in this exhibit is largely the result of five weeks spent in Ireland in the Fall of 2011—three of which I was an artist in residence at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, located in the gentle countryside of County Monaghan. I also spent time in Dublin and a week traveling in the West of Ireland with my husband. Certain experiences left strong emotional and sensual traces in my mind and continue to feed my work. I was very moved by a number of megalithic stone cairns and monuments, and by the visual riches of the moisture-saturated landscape. I have been working to bring increasingly complex color and texture into my paintings as a result.
An important aspect of the work in this exhibit is the idea of the “veil.” The word evokes both the misty damp that so often pervades the air in Ireland, and also a more metaphoric veil between the world of everyday reality and one more spiritual and mystical. A woman that I met at the Guthrie Centre remarked that “the veil is very thin here,” a phrase that I have recalled many times since in thinking of the beautiful mystique of the Irish landscape and what I know of the culture. In a number of recent paintings, the many layers of paint applied, along with sand and spattered solvents, create a complex visual veil.
Spending time in Ireland has led to a longing to return, and to feel again that exquisite blend of peace and focused energy that characterizes a true home for the soul. In addition to a possible trip this fall, I will be going back in the fall of 2013, as I have been awarded a Fellowship to the Ballinglen Art Foundation, located in the tiny village of Ballycastle in the northwestern part of the country. It is within walking distance of the rugged seacoast—a new and exciting aspect of Ireland to explore.