looking back, paintings from the mid 80s
In my last post, I traced developments in my work starting with undergrad explorations of natural forms, through the surrealism of my years in graduate school at Arizona State University in the mid 80s. In this post, I'll show a few examples from the later 80s to early 90s. It is a very quick run through some of the changes that my work has gone through--a preview of the first part of a slide talk about my work I'll be presenting next month at Cullowhee Mountain Arts
near Asheville, NC.
Shortly after my husband and I left Arizona and moved back to our home in Wisconsin, a whole new phase of life began...pregnancy, giving birth and life with two young kids. My sons were born in 1986 and 1989. I don't have much to post from those years, but it's not because I wasn't in the studio. I did continue to carve out time to made art, to participate in exhibits, to connect with galleries. (I remember an opening reception in which a certain baby carried in the crook of my arm overextended the capacity of his diaper. Not a pretty sight!) I just don't have much to show that has survived, or that I have good images of. I suppose I was too overwhelmed to keep good records or preserve my work well.
The large scale drawing below is a surviving example of my work from this time period. Pregnancy and birth inspired abstract imagery related to the birth canal, to seeds and growth. My lack of extended studio time led me to prefer drawing (charcoal and pastel) and collage, media that took less time to set up and clean up than painting. I continued to explore an abstract vocabulary that was related to my inner life and experience, but most of it was more accessible than previous, surreal images. (Something about having kids made me feel more connected to other humans in general, and without it being a conscious thing, I used iconography with more universal appeal than the strange, convoluted forms of my grad school work.) During this time I was involved in a business start up of a parenting newspaper, and besides being the editor for the paper, I wrote columns about creativity and children. I also taught some summer workshops on abstraction for adults. It's a wonder I got any artwork done at all, and I was not terribly prolific, but have always felt proud that I kept my hand in.
Once my boys were in school full time I had more studio time, although I was also working part time teaching at two university art departments. Around this time I began my first long term, successful gallery association, with the now defunct Suzanne Kohn Gallery in St. Paul, MN. I continued to develop a personal abstract language, moving back into oil painting. A lot of my imagery continued the theme of the downward pointing triangle shape seen in the drawing above. It evolved into a shield, a shell, a female symbol. I began to sense the power and expansiveness of the abstract language. The painting below, Shield
, is from 1987.
To be continued!