I stopped making art from age 23 to 33. I started again when I was 34 and have no plans to stop again.
What changed: my daughter was born and I wanted to model living the life you want, and not just hear myself tell her that she can create any life she chooses; the cells in my throat turned to cancer and grew and spread and were surgically removed and irradiated for good measure; both my parents started dying in earnest, each brain cell and neural path going gray and filling with plaque; their home burned down and we lost generations of things of great beauty. In the aftermath of that year, I had to rebuild my parents lives for them, mostly against their will but with their safety as a priority. And I watched how two people with diminishing insight and capacity and ability spend down the hours and days. All contrasted with the thriving growth of a preschooler.
Even though I have less time than before, I now find the time for art. I demanded the time. I built the time out of nothing. And I’ve thought about what’s important to me: making things with my hands as a conscious practice to train my body to keep working and making when my mind fails me. How important beauty is to have around us. I found better ways to save things: cutting up the postcard, the event announcement, my daughter’s youthful art, the pages of my sketchbook, and gluing them into my collages seemed a better way to honor them. I am always aware that everything could go up in smoke, your brain can die, the cancer can spread. So I work slowly, thinking about each piece of paper, each line I draw over it, each color I blend and carefully match to the found material. I get to practice the art of curation and savoring, when my instinct is to keep everything intact and preserved in original form.
I come from a family of quilt makers and my work, like quilting, is full of vivid colors, strong contrasting color combinations, asymmetrical and strip piecing, reused old material, uneven and large line work (stitching), and the use of hidden protective charm symbols; it is a method to record and share events of familial and personal importance. In piecing together these disparate pieces, I get to explore the themes of regeneration and rebirth, of bringing new life to old things. I think about how I am training my hands to do this work, my eyes to see, my brain to make these choices and how vital that will be to me as I age and before I die.