"The attitude that nature is chaotic and that the artist puts order into it is a very absurd point of view, I think. All that we can hope for is to put some order into ourselves." -- William de Kooning
If I were to describe my work in one word, the word would be healing. In the Visions of Paradise series, I wanted to present an alternative to all the negative energy swirling around this planet - war, famine, global warming, etc. I wanted to make something beautiful, to provide a place for the eyes to rest and relax. I couldn't always be puttering in my garden, so I turned to embroidered landscapes. They offered an advantage over an actual garden, they're portable.
People don't exist in these works, but their presence is implied. I think of this presence as a version of neutral carbon footprints, a hope that we can live on this planet with respect for self, others and planet. But occasionally my anger and despair slip out. The above piece Mother Is Crying is an example. I was living in England soon after the Cherynobl disaster. Meat was being sold in butcher shops as "Cherynobl" affected. I still wonder if there was a cancer spike in England as a result. I know there was in Cherynobl and its surrounding communities.
I grew up in Missouri where the disaster at Times Beach made the national news in the 1980's. Stupidity, greed and arrogance resulted in outrageously dangerous levels of dioxin in the soil. The town had to be deserted. For many years as you drove along Route 66, you would see men in white decontamination suits cleaning up the mess. All that remains is a small state park with a plaque.
When applying to one graduate program, I was asked why I didn't study landscape design if I love gardens as much as I do. As I've stated, gardens aren't portable. I wanted to bring the garden to those who could not or did not reach out to Mother Nature. Some would say that gardening is a form of colonization through the direct shaping and controlling of nature. Every gardener will tell you that this is a joke. Mother Nature is always in control. I simply try to enjoy what she has to offer, to share her wonders with others.
What I've enjoyed about being part of the environmental project Cool Globes is the focus on solutions. Mother Is Crying is not a solution, only a highlight of environmental disasters. How many times can one be banged over the head about the disastrous state of our environment before tuning out? Yet even the smallest positive change can reap huge benefits. It can be as basic as wearing a sweater rather than turning up the thermostat or planting a tree in your backyard.
Since that first garden planted under the "El" tracks of Chicago, I have attempted to plant a small garden at every residence I have lived. When I first moved to London, I arrived in late December, not prime gardening weather. So, I visited Kew Gardens and sketched inside the greenhouses, read everything written by Gertrude Jekyll (I named my beloved schnauzer Gerttie after her.) and absorbed all I could of the London parks. Gardens can be as beautiful in winter when dormant as in summer when in full bloom.
You know, I never did embroider a winter garden....hmmmm.