I’m from Illinois where I was born into an artistic family, with a couple of professional artists, so I always made art. It came easy to me and I enjoyed drawing and ceramics from an early age. I had the opportunity to attend a BFA program in Sculpture at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where they have an excellent metal foundry which I was obsessed with. Memorably, we used to break up radiators and do an Iron pour every spring, and pour bronze the rest of the time. I also did a three year Masters in Sculpture at Indiana University, where I did more bronze casting and graduated in 1998.
Several years of adjunct teaching followed, mainly 3-D Design and Drawing. In my graduate program I taught Art for Non-Majors which included a little bit of everything.
After moving to the Bay Area in California and working at a foundry for two years, I became interested in making my sculptures move, so I started casting my clay sculptures in lighter weight materials like resins, rubber, and foam. Now, I create hollow cast resin or foam creatures that I make light up and/or move with electronics and microcontrollers. I consider light to be an essential medium in my sculpture, and am always working on more whimsical glowing moving creatures to add to my collection.
The medium is the message, so if you want your art to speak to the culture we live in today, technology seems like the best medium. If you make work using fresh technologies, that work is saying very loudly that this is art for and about contemporary people/society, and I decided I want my art to do that. It also seems the most appropriate medium for content about science. Light as a medium or symbol in Art can be a metaphor for consciousness, life force or vitality, energy, clarity of perception or purpose. When science examines the nature of light, it comes up with relativity and quantum mechanics. Observation has proved that light has a paradoxical nature and is at the same time both a wave and a particle. Scientific research has also shown that living creatures including humans, are biologically capable of creating their own light, much like the deep sea fishes.
The addition of movement, the idea of change over time puts my work into the category of 4D, or time based exploration. Learning engineering techniques to add this dimension to my sculpture has been a daunting yet ultimately rewarding focus. I owe my electronics and programming education to the internet and the open source movement, and the Crucible in Oakland, where I took every class I could in Kinetics.
I am interested in science, especially biology, morphology, the biodiversity of animals, bioluminescence, regeneration, the superpowers of animals. I do work that explores the ethics of science and technology, and the possibilities of what could be done with it- shall we say Science Fiction? I did a series exploring the semiotics of the body; I’m drawn to spirituality as experienced through nature and scientific inquiry. The older I get the more relevant it seems to also incorporate Humor and Caricature in my creations. I’m inspired by the history of Automata , the Cabaret Mechanical Theater, Theo Jansen’s Straandbeests, Arthur Ganson and Jean Tinguely’s kinetic work, Patricia Piccinini’s cast creatures, and film industry animatronics. I was privileged to know a bunch of amazing Bay Area kinetic sculptors like Carl Pisaturo, Frank Garvey, Nemo Gould, and Kal Spelletich. I got to be involved with Robo-Games, the Maker Faire, and several hacker spaces while living in the Bay Area. There are not a lot of women who do the kind of work that I am doing and that is a real handicap for me, but I did work with a couple of friends on occasion: Rose (Canner Mefe) and Marina Kukso.
I have always enjoyed making beautiful objects, and I still do because that is my aesthetic. Beauty is not trivial, it has a positive effect on our psychology. Lately, I make beautiful objects with technology, which to me illustrates that it is possible and desirable to maintain some continuity with the past and to preserve elements of history and culture that have value. I think we should preserve the humanity and beauty and spirituality that represents the best of us, while making best use of new insights and abilities.
Postmodernism seems to deconstruct all hierarchy and culture to the point where nothing has meaning. Now I have heard that we are Post-human or Trans-human, but I find that branding a little disturbing and unnecessary. I can see how that might be one way to describe the fact that we can now alter our own genetic code, or use it to store information, that we have the ability to alter our own bodies, design our children’s dna, change gender, grow human organs in pigs, or 3d print them, or implant technology inside the body, but really I have no wish to be post-human, I am perfectly happy being human. I guess it’s always a dissatisfaction with the present that pushes people to go further than anyone has ever gone before with their explorations, but not all change is positive. For example, the effect that we’re seeing with plastics today in the ocean and sea life dying, is not positive. Plastics were a revolutionary technology in the 20th Century, and nobody could forsee the problems that would arise in relatively short time.
I do still find meaning and beauty in life and I also love technology because it has tremendous power to solve problems.. I’m hopeful that we as a species will not just destroy ourselves with it.