Light, color, pigments, perception, people, plants, more-than-human beings, bodies, infection, disease, (auto)immunity, health, wellness, linked metabolisms, mutual dependence, interspecies flourishing, planetary interconnectedness, science, metaphysics, and enduring wonderment — this is the constellation from whence my creativity springs.
The invention, early history, and basic elements of photography provided the foundation for my artistic practice, which is informed by my career as an archaeologist at an environmental planning firm and 25 years studying humankind’s ever-changing relationship with the environment as mediated by technology. I use light sensitive chemistry in unexpected ways to make camera-less photographs and challenge long-standing assumptions about the medium’s evidentiary character and expectations of its permanence. I reinterpret historic optical equipment, deconstruct contemporary digital devices, and invent apparatuses to probe the edges of the known and visible world in search of a greater understanding of human consciousness in connection with nature.
My recent work focuses on the web of relationships between human and environmental health and manifests in wildcrafted hydrosols for scent-based experiences and botanical pigments extracted by hand from sustainably foraged plants that I use for dying, weaving, drawing, painting, and making fugitive photographs. Through this work I explore notions of vulnerability, illness, imbalance, exhaustion, resilience, regeneration, harmony, and vitality from an ecological perspective and my embodied experience as a woman living with multiple autoimmune and chronic conditions for over 35 years. I am particularly awestruck by the life giving power of photosynthesis, which I often invoke as an analog for my body’s inability to metabolize sugar due to Type I diabetes.
Over the past four years I have worked almost exclusively with cottonwood trees as both subject and material. In the Middle Rio Grande Valley where I live, the majority of cottonwoods are in senescence and struggling to regenerate due to human disruption of the natural flood cycle and riparian ecology. Moreover, increasing periods of drought resulting from climate change are causing weakened immune systems in these phreatophytes, and so they increasingly fall victim to fungal infection and other environmental stressors.
Beyond living among them, I feel a deep kinship with Rio Grande cottonwood trees because I have a chronic case of Coccidiomycosis, also known as Valley Fever, a pulmonary infection caused by microscopic soil-dwelling fungus endemic to the Southwestern United States. Coccidiomycosis is on the rise due to climate change-induced intensified dust storms, drought, and desertification, and further fueled by sprawling urban expansion, industrialized agriculture, and other degradation and disruption of natural soil ecosystems.
In general, I work with plants as both material and content in my art to invoke healing, celebrate our interdependence and mutual flourishing, inspire place-based ecological awareness and compassionate stewardship of fragile ecosystems. By employing labor intensive processes, I hope to bring awareness to the invisible labor of plants in supporting human health and the emotional labor of managing chronic illness. And I intentionally collaborate with natural materials imbued with life forces of their own to more deeply connect to the wild, transformative and yet cyclical character of emergence and decay foundational to the universe.