What is the story I want to share? It is about making the invisible visible – an autobiography of inner workings. In my spiritual-listening artist journey every piece of art shows my opposing qualities of Strength and Fragility. There are three visual metaphors that come and go in my work repeatedly because they consistently allow me to express varieties of meanings in these opposing qualities in varieties of ways with different materials.
Cornstalks became one of my metaphors during and after moving to Iowa from Florida. My image bank is still stocked with aerial views of Iowa’s patchwork of farms. Every road trip during growing season I add more corduroy-like corn field images to the bank. The individual plants visually fascinate me with their ramrod straight, elegant bamboo-like stalks sporting wiggly finger like surface roots and floppy arm like leaves. They stand as tall as or taller than me and have as much to “say” to me as I do to them.
Branches are another autobiographical metaphor because they represent my connection to something spiritually bigger and stronger, long standing and quietly powerful. No matter that I may be or feel broken, broken off, windswept, or discarded, my true identity is to the stronger whole tree and that is a beautiful deep truth.
Wings are a metaphor because they represent a spirit of hope and the action of the Holy Spirit. If we had wings, like birds have, they would be miraculously strong enough to lift us and transport us. The way wings act is not to change the air as much as they change where we are in the air. The way the Holy Spirit acts in my life is not to change the circumstances around me as often as to change me – where I am mentally and in my heart.
Depending on seasons in my life other images become short term inspirations they give me experimental testing grounds to explore and express the underlying themes of strength and fragility.
why cornstalk studio
The inspiration for the name “Cornstalk Studio” came during the family move from Florida to Iowa in 2004. Starting with the charming patchwork images of the Iowa landscape through plane windows Cornstalks became one of my autobiographical metaphors. The individual plants contain elements that are foolish and whimsical as well as strong and regal. So the name “Cornstalk Studio” aptly describes who I am and what I create.
When I was a little girl I was captivated by my mother’s trips to the fabric store where she bought exotic supplies for making costumes for opera productions. My “imagination box” was full of fabric scraps of satins, furs, metallic lamés and actual worn out costumes. I begged my mother to teach me, so I learned how to sew almost before I could read. By the time I was 10 I was making my own clothes and I dreamed of becoming a famous New York fashion designer.
When I finally made it to design school in NYC I discovered the fashion industry and NYC held no charm. I returned to Louisville, Kentucky, and I opened a small art studio where I made art quilts and liturgical banners and vestments. After a few years I chose to go back to school for BFA as a Fiber major and a Painting minor because I was looking for missing pieces in my training and an encouraging artistic community.
After Art school I interned at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York in their Textile Conservation Lab to try out museum work. I definitely loved the details and the science involved in conservation and I loved the museum environment where I learned something new every day but I was an artist and not a conservator so I returned to my fiber roots and worked as a quilt artist and sewer-designer for many more years.
By the time I arrived in Iowa, quilt making/ two dimensional works were not satisfying enough anymore. I kept feeling frustrated by my attempts to make quilts more dimensional. In January, 2009, I reframed my artistic question. Instead of asking myself, “How can I make this quilt more three dimensional?” I asked myself, “How can I make a sculpture that includes fiber?” Since then I have considered myself to be an artist-sculptor who uses the combined materials of fiber, metal and wood to tell my autobiographical story.
2016, August, Improvisation Workshop with Nancy Crow
2009, January – Creativity workshop with Laura Cater Woods
1999 -2000 – Docent Training at the North Carolina Museum of Art.
January 2000 – Turtle Camp with Susan Shie and James Accord, Wooster, Ohio.
Fall 1983 – Internship at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, NYC. Textile
Conservation lab under Lucy Commoner.
1983 – Graduate Louisville School of Art. BFA, Fiber major, Painting minor.
1982 – July, August, Oxbow, the summer workshop of the Chicago
Art Institute, Saugatuck, Michigan. Studied painting with Ed Shay
and Judy Gordon.
1977 – Summer, Traphagan School of Fashion Design, NYC.
1975 – B.L.S. (Bachelor of Liberal Studies) University of Louisville.
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