For me, there is always a story to tell. There is nothing that connects me to you like sharing stories. When I have been willing to go deep within me for a truth that touches the core of me, then I trust I have made something good. If it is honest, it is good. If it is honest, it has the potential to reach the viewer as well.
I draw on several recurring visual metaphors, like cornstalks, branches, wings, and walls, to describe autobiographical inner workings. Every piece becomes an experience of conversation and transformation because I am, in essence, documenting my artistic/spiritual journey. I take time to hold the roughness or awkwardness or mystery of emotions with a posture of curiosity and affection. Then I try to express these emotional moments with depth, with wonder, and with love.
By using a variety of materials and techniques, I tap into the distinctive expressive character of each to layer meanings in my stories. Together, hard and soft structures and textures convey the tension and glue there is in emotions. In my creative process I take materials apart so I can build them back in a new way of understanding.
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.