On Personal Memory and Art-Making
For this exhibit I selected a number of works that reflect memories of my family and hometown. Raised in Seattle, I moved away in my early 20’s, but I have maintained close relationships with family and friends through frequent visits. I live in the Bay Area now, but some part of me works to close the gap between my two homes. I often harken back to people, locations and events that are an integral part of me; these recollections often surface to my awareness and become manifest in my artwork. Hence, the works are my mementos.
Besides the obvious actions of holding a brush and applying paint, an important element of the creative process for me is looking, brooding, mulling, reconsidering. An artist working in her studio has uncharted time and space to herself as she goes about manipulating materials and creating images, and the freedom to make what she wants. As I paint I allow myself to be in an open place where I am as indulgent and intuitive as possible, first loosely setting out the beginnings of a painting with strokes and colors that appeal to me that day. Once I start, the paint and my hand/arm movements lead me to the next stroke. What I see in the marks I make engenders thoughts in a stream of consciousness. I grab from these what feels important, and make marks that represent the feeling-sense that is surfacing. At the same time I am quite in love with the deep colors, the buttery texture of oil paint, the slash of strokes, the surprising areas where one color meets another. I keep going until a scene forms that intrigues me and pushes me onward to define it. It’s exciting (and sometimes frustrating) to watch it unfold and then figure out how to finalize it all.
Memory is a major contributor to stream of consciousness. At times I have wondered if perhaps I am “working out” moments in my life that did not get enough attention while they were happening or that I did not understand at the time. Or, I wish to pay homage to those moments. Much of the urge to create the work is about proclaiming: “I exist. This is me, this is what I have seen, this is my view of the world.”*
Much of my work has been reminiscent of the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, which I still visit often. Others are keepsakes of family members; I created something for myself that represents them in order to “hold on to them.” The assemblages are obvious: “He Built A Life” (see photo below) and “Glen’s Candies” are for my difficult father, “Little Sylvia’s Dollhouse” for my adored mother. “Two Wildernesses” is a painting honoring my brother, who died at the young age of 65. He loved to hike in the wilderness and when we lost him we were left in our own wilderness. As I mention these creations, see them here in public, I recall and share these loved ones and loved places again.
”….what I do is me, for that I came.” Gerard Manley Hopkins