My work is based on my experience as a woman including the limitations and expectations society places on them. The primary themes are the objectification of women and the idea of women’s domesticity.
My work leans into my German cultural heritage, how I was raised and influenced by the women in my family who taught me knitting, sewing, crochet and many other forms of women’s work. My family frequently traveled to Germany where I was introduced to art in museums, churches, and villages, and local crafts such as woodworking, decorative painting, and ceramics. The women in my world wore aprons and cooked dinner from scratch which was served on a punctual schedule. They were smart and capable and taught me I could do anything I set my mind to, but my house should always be clean and my clothes ironed.
My world has been a combination of patriarchy and feminism. I’ve held traditional female roles but also worked as a welder and police officer. I explore this contrast in my practice, whether it’s an object, such as my sculpture based on clothing, needlework, and historical ceramics, or paintings with references to patterns found in domestic spaces such as on ceramics and textiles.
My ceramic sculptures take the form of garments. These work as portraits with no face, layered in meaning, symbols of both objectification and power, personal and impersonal. Women use undergarments to reclaim their power, from bra burning, to underwear selfies looking for validation. Handkerchiefs have a history as a woman’s object, used as a token of love, to convey secret messages, included in dowries, and with the dawn of screen printing, used as propaganda. Dresses convey beauty, status, and expression. So much meaning is tied to what we wear and what we own. Creating these garments in ceramic references the domesticity of the medium, and women’s “place” while the forms have replaced the body or the woman as the subject.
My paintings explore my memories as a woman, wife, and mother. I think of how rediscovering a bowl my son used when he was young triggers a flood of memories. The patterns found in the home on items such as plates or tablecloths mingle with images of my family and myself. These domestic objects are intimately tied to my experience. This is the feeling I capture in my paintings.
My work is rooted in domesticity, a “fitting” place for me and women in general. The more personal the stories I tell, the more universal they feel. We have been “appeased” with gifts of fine china, tchotchkes, vases, and more, which I reference in my work. My experience is not unique. I re-imagine these objects and women’s garments to invite the viewer into conversation.