Why Figurative Motion?
Being a deaf artist situates me in a unique experience. I am a lip reader, and my 90% loss of hearing leaves me sensitive to body language and the implications of gesture, since I rely on visual cues. Although I can hear music with the help of my hearing aids, my disability makes me to look for meaning in the way people move. I prefer observing and drawing from dancers because they are less inhibited. My inner dance world is important to me. I communicate my deaf self through calligraphic marks based on figures in life: dancing, walking, relaxing, living. Gesture and body language is crucial to my working process. I feel the way we move reflects our identities. By capturing the odd angles and juxtapositions I see in life, I create an abstracted world of human energy and unspoken meaning, as well as works reflecting beauty, grace, strength, balance and rhythm.
In 1973 I began making gesture drawings during ballet classes at Ohio State. I transferred to and graduated from Rhode Island School of Design in 1976. I have used dance as primary source for my marks, which have evolved from rounded, strobe-like forms to current totemic swooshes often mistaken as Oriental calligraphy. Since 2000 I have prepared my canvas surfaces with collage for cultural referencing and messaging, leaving the collage exposed within the marks. This serves as a visual zeitgeist, as catalogue of place and culture. Combined with my dancer/marks, my work synthesizes place, rhythmic form and visual energy.
In the 45+ years since I first started using gesture as my foundation for art-making, I have changed styles and media to say or reflect on different themes. At first, I was solely focused in exchanging my gesture sketches to oils on canvas. Those full figures evolved into “Souls” when I investigated the figures as stand-alone icons. Then I began doing “Narratives,” because I wanted to tell a story by placing the figures in a shallow environment. I don’t perceive depth the way normal people do, so these works were notable for their flat, simplified perspective. I began using collage and latex to explore the range of visual culture, which can be seen in the lines of the figures. A trip to California inspired the paneling and vivid colors for the “California” series, in which paintings are named after wineries in Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Around 2010, I began painting people in natural settings. I photographed them candidly, so they might have a natural feeling and absence of structural gesture.
Around that time I was working as a high school art teacher, and the bitter tears of broken-hearted teenaged girls led me to the idea behind the “Ophelia” series, which I completed in 2021.
Currently, my focus has been to explore the connections between figurative motion, music, and the history of rock and roll. Repeat visits to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland sparked my quest to create works that combine these connections in expressive mixed media canvases using all the tools in my studio, including silk screen printing, painting, calligraphy, and collage.