Parenthood provokes a heightened awareness of every moment, motivating a shift in the content of my work to emphasize my family’s culpability in consumption. The lasting impact of waste is illustrated through the use of imagery featuring my children as stand-ins for humanity's impulsive, short-sighted nature. My creative practice has evolved to include greener, thriftier practices to reduce impact, and to model behaviors for a more sustainable future.
Recent work expresses the pride, anxiety, and comfort family provides. The pandemic—paired with a new baby born weeks premature—has reinforced a desire to hunker down till viral and political storms pass. At the same time, our growing family has strengthened my resolve that the best way to assure happy, healthy kids is to create bonds with and promote an equitable future for neighbors, community, and society at large. I reject the trope “good fences make good neighbors”, preferring a literal and metaphorical neighborhood that respects privacy but rejects partitions that make it easy to abstract and dehumanize the folks on the other side.
To that end, community engagement and curatorial efforts are a crucial part of my creative practice. My partner and I work together in teaching workshops, organizing exhibitions, and creating matrices and goods to support BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ organizations. We see these endeavors as ways to serve our neighbors, providing our skills as a conduit for their voices, or teaching creative tools to help others make themselves seen and heard in a new way. The Keep Up and Keep Out protest flags, for example, were produced in a community print and fiber workshop that generated a collaborative protest banner exhibition. For most participants the workshop was their first experience in printmaking, sewing, and their first exhibition.
Contemporary theory and techniques, including craft and post-digital approaches, are incorporated with established printmaking processes in my studio practice to create work that is at once linked with the present and the past. In this way, my creative work parallels my interest in evolution and natural history. Compositions and motifs occasionally nod toward art historical precedents, while loud colors, and new-fangled techniques place the work firmly in the contemporary milieu. Relief printing on alternative upcycled substrates, lithography using more sustainable materials, and digitally informed execution in a variety of media are but a few generations in my recent evolution. My current position running a letterpress space has provided greater exploration of new technologies like 3D printing, CNC routers, and laser engravers. This summer, I will begin to make paper from fabric and paper scraps left over from previous projects to reduce the environmental impact of print practices. I will also investigate creating my own inks using printable pigments derived from sustainable plant sources. These research endeavors will further efforts to reduce my impact, leaving less mess for my neighbors, while connecting to printmaking’s roots.
The collaborations offered here use the nuclear family and consumption of natural resources as complementary metaphors. Domestic bliss, as celebrated in America, is reliant on outmoded, gendered roles and division of labor. Methods of extraction, manufacturing, and consumption of resources are equally tired and inefficient. The warmth and comfort gained through old modes is potentially volatile and wholly unsustainable. To extend the theme, the day-to-day labor of child-rearing, and new mouths to feed, means a bigger mess to clean up. My work is often executed using craft methods and repurposed remnants from the home, reinforcing the domestic metaphor, while thwarting our baser instincts toward quick consumption. The trash and packaging materials that compose Leftovers and Remains—compiled and donated by university art programs in the exhibition host communities—highlight our collective unintended environmental impact, its hidden costs in resources and labor, and the lasting consequences on the landscape. Crocheted pieces incorporate proofs on fabric, used clothes and linens from our home, our friends and family, and even strangers. The resulting Footprints document the detritus of our shared lives, literally linking the contributors together, emphasizing our shared history and considered future. The conservation employed in these projects, and throughout my work, challenges the “every person for themselves” mindset, instead promoting a practice that ensures there are resources for all and messes for no one in the neighborhood.