Hawthorne Arts Complex
Artist of the Month Interview
Tell us a little about yourself and your background as an artist.
I am an artist that explores art processes where chance and experimentation are as important as the final product. From ice dyeing garments to creating expressionist screen prints, my pieces are focused on the process. I explore making the unknown, chance, and happy accidents while also trying to evoke a sense of nature and play.
Growing up in San Francisco, I took art classes every chance I could. I still remember my first high school black and white photography class, and the opportunity to print images using the dark room. The moment when the photograph had been exposed and appeared in the developer tray seemed like magic. It was a few seconds of swishing liquid around the developer, but from a white canvas an image emerged. I was hooked.
I loved art, but didn’t want to be “a starving artist” so I decided to become an architect. For undergrad, I attended USC and studied Architecture. After working in Architecture and Environmental Graphic Design, I went back to grad school (at the Rhode Island School of Design) to get my MFA. While at RISD, I got to explore alternative photography processes like Cyanotype and Silkscreen. I started leaning towards hands on methods and abstraction, getting enamored by printmaking processes.
Since RISD, I have focused on more hands on art making methods and dove into textiles. I traveled to Japan to study under master craftsmen to learn Indigo and Shibori. I also traveled Bagru India to study blockprinting under block print artisans.
I consider myself an eternal student, always excited to learn and play. I believe that hands on learning activates a part of ourselves that many have forgotten to use. As a student at RISD, we were always encouraged to play. To experiment and to discover. To start something we didn’t know the ending of. Art was a process, not an answer. In my own work, I strive to incorporate hands on methods that lend a certain level of surprise. Each step can never be exactly reproduced, and all pieces are one of a kind. Shibori, marbling, even silkscreen products become reflections of their moment and their makers. I love the surprise and the discovery of seeing what can be created in a short period time, usually through some “happy accidents.” So much of our lives are on the computer or on digital devices. Tactile art allows freedom and unrestricted discovery.
What kind of work do you make?
I believe in the power of creativity and hands-on making methods. I am now a print maker and textile artist, combining abstract and photographic textures to create new worlds.
I am currently creating a series inspired by my travels to India, named “Fables” The collection has about 100 monoprint screen prints, each layered with my photos and with hand painted textures from my trip to the Golden Triangle. My previous screen print collection, “Cosmic” is also a series of monoprint screen prints, their forms inspired by the incredible Astronomy Center in Jaipur, India.
In addition to screenprinting, I am currently creating a series of garments and home products using ice dye and color dye techniques. I have spent the summer been playing with color and ice to dye one of a kind caftans, scarves and shawls.
I also teach Art Workshops and host Corporate Creative Events. I believe making things together connects us. We play, we learn from others and we shed our boundaries to talk and collaborate. At Crave, we try to create a studio environment where people make together and learn, rather than compete. We share blocks and learn from each other how others print with them. This is the foundation of Crave Workshops. Sharing in an artistic activity allows us to learn about ourselves things we might be unaware of, as well as learn things about our friends. Strangers become friends quickly standing over the indigo vat. My closest friendships were formed in art classes or in travel workshops. Doing things together becomes a shared moment where we chat, we learn, and we allow outsides to be vulnerable so that we can meet others and meet ourselves.
What inspires you?
My art focuses on form, texture, color and evoking memories of my travels.
I love color and creating new combinations of rich hues. I am inspired by processes that utilize pieces of nature in them, like using leaves in Cyanotypes to make patterns.
Certain places deeply inspire me and my work. I have been lucky to travel to enchanted places all around the world. Each one has left an indelible impression on me and my work. I am drawn to color, to hot places with rich histories, cities that feel “old” and where life has patterns of ancient times. They have donkeys that transporting goods on the streets, or elephants walking alongside roads. They are exotic and “real.”
I am especially drawn to India. I have visited both the north and the south in the last few years. Rajasthan has an enchanted aura. As I prefer layered art that’s slightly “messy’ and chaotic, I prefer cities which are layered and busy with a cacophony of raw energy. Rajasthan is the epitome of “ordered chaos.” It’s a land of kings, full of palaces filled with intricate, unbelievable riches. There are cobra charmers, camels, all stuff of fairytales but real in front of our eyes. There is hustle and bustle, and A LOT going in, but somehow everything has a rhythm that works with the whole. Tuk tuks, cars, and pedestrians weave amidst busy streets, everything and anything is happening, and its somehow it all works together. That’s how I feel about art. I love layered pieces, where there are multiple readings, many things happening all which evoke multiple understandings.
Throughout India, the cities are saturated with rainbow hues. I feel at home, amidst the chaotic, the random and irreverent beauty. Architecture school taught me to be precise, ordered and clean. Catholic school likewise. But in my heart, I’m messy. I want to play, to get paint everywhere, to make with techno blaring loudly in my headphones. The screenprints have this style. The dyes, also. Nothing is perfect and everything is perfect.
Mexico City (another one of my favorite cities) has a similar vibe. It’s busy, frenetic, full of color and life. I hope to evoke this energy in my work. Sometimes it might be a layer too much, but too much is better than not enough.
How has your practice changed over the years?
I am always exploring new mediums. I love paper and paint, and used to paint acrylics and oils, focusing on more traditional themes. Now, abstraction and textiles call my name.
I have been able to experiment with all these textile arts thanks to my space at HAC. It allows me to be messy: steam plants, paint with ice, dye with indigo.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
People seem to love the colors and the joyful energy of my textiles. The tactile quality of the fabrics is also a draw.
Customers get especially connected when I share the history and context of the art forms. When I show that a particular technique is actually from a village outside Jaipur, where we stamped with mud, the pillow takes on new meaning. Each textile is a story, inspired by tradition and a sense of place. I try to share those stories so that the form my customers see is steeped in context and meaning. I try to interpret traditional methods with modern geometries, but the tradition connects us with artisans of generations past.
Why do you make art?
My art is my meditation. It’s an opportunity to be present, to be in the moment, and to explore. To create something just with my hands, and allow happy accidents to free me from preconceived notions or client demands. For me, making is a mindful and meditative practice. I am truly immersed in the sense of flow, lose track of time, and allow myself to be completely focused and present. I am not multitasking, or thinking about other things. I am focused on the dyes in front of me, on the process and the journey.
What role do you think artists have in society?
The crafts I love all have a certain level of unpredictability and uniqueness. I screen print monoprints, where no two are alike. I do ice dyeing where I never know exactly how the colors will mix to paint my sweatshirt. I love some surprise which allows me to “lose” control and predict what should be the right answer. This is essential for art and for life.
Tell us about one of your favorite projects or pieces you have worked on.
I am super excited about my newest collection of ice dyed caftans.
First, I would love to lounge in caftans every day for the rest of my life.
Second, the colors are so rich and layered in this form of dyeing. The method is super simple - use powdered dyes on top of ice, with fabric scrunched underneath. As the ice melts, the colors melt into the fabric, blending into a beautiful rainbow of chance and serendipity. It feels like painting on fabric, where nature takes part in the process. I am enamored when opening the bundles after the ice is all melted. You never know exactly how it melted and what the patterns will reveal.