I work in a variety of media, clay being my favorite: the sheer physicality of slapping, shaping and stretching into sculptural canvasses of bas relief plaques and large open heads with a world going on inside them. Recently, I began using mixed media in most of what I create- the ceramic art, the mobile making, collage/assemblage. Using my smartphone is now part of my toolbox. I use it for photography and creating collaged photos. The printed photographs often become part of cut and pasted collages together with mixed media painting.
Writing poetry is intimately bound up with my artwork. These many avenues allow me to convey my personal perspective on the world I live in- the playful side of me, my love of story telling, but also serious social commentary.
Ideas occur to me as I walk along and see litter with its potential as material. Smashed soda cans with straws become a challenge to work into a mobile: how the head can “drink” from the straw, or in the “Yes, We Can” mobile, a message and a reality to remind us to pay attention before our planet turns into one big toxic waste dump.
The endless variations of extreme high heeled shoes, with flashy red bottoms-, the way the person in the shoe struts, careens, becomes majestic- inspired a whole series of ceramic, “High Steppers,” where the shoe becomes the person- or a couple- as in the shoes, “Adam and Eva,” and “Romeo & Juliet.”
After the mass slaughter at The Sandy Hook Elementary School, with my grandson close to the children’s ages, I poured myself into a whole array of mixed media sculptural works and a quilted flag, “America under Gun.” Creating became a release for the terror and helplessness, as well as a “call to arms,” in an attempt to bring about positive change from these gruesome situations. Sadly these mass shootings continue and “Gun Show,” retains its chilling relevance.
The ubiquitous automobile, shopping malls, endless technology “upgrades,” the post 9/11 fear, the lingo of cell phone use- all this gives me plenty to explore. How do I modify my strong Viennese-American heritage into new fusions reflecting the world I was born into? As a child, on trips back to the old country, I would study the carvings and stained glass windows of the great cathedrals, and admire the expressions of folk and bible stories brought forth by their anonymous creators.
That world finds its way into “Adam and Eva in the Garden,” another mixed media ceramic piece, where the apple is on a ceramic screen and a pair of audio earbuds (found on the street), shared by the original couple, slip in and out of a ceramic portal.
My short poem summarizes how I work:
in the Long- the Left, the Right
“Is wider than the Sky.”
The brain sweeps the Ground,
Brings Mind to what is found-
The Butt, the Can- cradled in my Hand.
And shapes a fitting round
Of sidewalk- onto Canvas.
(Based on “The Brain is wider than the Sky,” by Emily Dickinson)