Lately, my work has dealt with notions of personal identity and how, as human beings, we can be such chameleons. We wear many different hats in our lives today and fulfill many different functions. I am a woman, employee, mother, wife, daughter, friend and artist. Depending on time and place, my different identities are called on to step to the forefront. I became interested in the idea of “Who will I be when I am with you?” and worked with that as text in several earlier pieces. Recently, I began working with fabric and sewing and creating abstract home forms.
For a recent show at Lawndale Art Center in Houston, I made work that examined the fragmentary nature of time. I created 90 drawings that were 4” x 6” and were each completed in one day (30 of them are seen in the North Gallery). The 90 drawings were installed together as a large group and the many pieces together became a whole that represented a visual record of one person’s life (moods, artistic inclinations, etc.) for 90 days. The second phase of this project was to execute three large drawings that were each worked on for exactly one month. I was interested in seeing the difference between the work that had been divided into small bits of time and then seen as a whole, versus the accumulation of the days in the three larger pieces.
The stimulus for specific pieces came from my day-to-day life: the funny and sometimes profound things my young son says; words, ideas or emotions that struck me during the day; or the need on some days to simply do a mindless doodle. Some days were good, some bad, but as an entire (unedited) group, the paintings served to record the reality of the time I spent working over six months’ worth of days.
In the more recent work seen in the South Gallery, I have been working with fabric and stitching. The square pieces began as fabric collages, which represented a very different way of working for me. In the paper pieces, the composition is totally drawn out ahead of time, and then painted much like a large coloring book page. These first collages led to the sewn fabric constructions that represent abstracted homes.
I am always very curious to go into people’s homes, as your home really shows who you are. You surround yourself with items and objects that are both functional and reveal your tastes. You can learn a lot about a person’s habits and inclinations by going into his or her home.
Sewing seemed the appropriate method for constructing these homes, especially since sewing is traditionally work that is done in the privacy of the home. The process is additive and laborious, with the hand-stitching taking a long time. I use diaphanous fabrics like organza, chiffon and silks and you can see through the layers of the homes. The work moves intuitively and parallels my experience in my own home: no one gives you a manual as a parent or an artist. You have to find your own way, adding what seems necessary and right, and logging the hours to make it the best you can.