Environment

Environment

“The Last Sea”, in Water Over the Bridge, the Morean Art Center, May – June 2018


Work with the environment began with the destruction and ensuing poverty caused by Katrina, and two, Jared Diamond and his Easter Island lecture. These two examples of man’s greed and lack of will led me to believe in our world’s ultimate demise; self-absorption to self-destruction.

These events turned me from primarily painting to owning space via installations. The challenge still inspires the work. The two-plus years spent making the “The Last Tree” installation speaks to the manifestation of time, and in itself, rewards the effort.

Scarred and stitched textures, transformed from the silk organza I stain, metaphorically mimic surfaces, whether ours or in nature. Silk organza-clad objects are stuffed with human hair and became a signature for its intrinsic DNA and endearing symbolism, a symbiotic link to hair living beyond death.

A lasting question is one of purity. How do I flay the complexity of complex environmental issues without preaching? I hope the installations with their allusion to the collapse of societies communicate this intricacy.


Environment

Environment

“The Last Sea”, in Water Over the Bridge, the Morean Art Center, May – June 2018


Work with the environment began with the destruction and ensuing poverty caused by Katrina, and two, Jared Diamond and his Easter Island lecture. These two examples of man’s greed and lack of will led me to believe in our world’s ultimate demise; self-absorption to self-destruction.

These events turned me from primarily painting to owning space via installations. The challenge still inspires the work. The two-plus years spent making the “The Last Tree” installation speaks to the manifestation of time, and in itself, rewards the effort.

Scarred and stitched textures, transformed from the silk organza I stain, metaphorically mimic surfaces, whether ours or in nature. Silk organza-clad objects are stuffed with human hair and became a signature for its intrinsic DNA and endearing symbolism, a symbiotic link to hair living beyond death.

A lasting question is one of purity. How do I flay the complexity of complex environmental issues without preaching? I hope the installations with their allusion to the collapse of societies communicate this intricacy.


Luna Window

Luna Window

AC Institute, Chelsea NYC, September – November 2013


In 1940, public housing was constructed on the former site of Luna Park, Cleveland’s answer to Coney Island. The project, Woodhill, was the city’s largest. I moved into it at age fourteen, white, Jewish and isolated.

“Luna Window” is a series that exposes the irony of fantasy amusements descending into a wretched reality. It is a narrative of broken homes, broken dreams and the despair of one within a prison, pressed against the window unable to escape. The ladder is constructed of stained silk organza and stuffed with human hair, which I collect from hair salons. The diversity of hair from anonymous donors, each an individual DNA, place them in an environment not of their making. It is not a far reach these donors suffer a like predicament in reality.

What is frustrating is the lack of solutions. Luna Window communicates this internal frustration. Taken a step further, many of us have a “project” instilled memory – shame, guilt, or remorse – that resurfaces as we present an alternative face to the world.


Hung Out

Hung Out

“Hung Out To Dry No.4” 2010, exhibited in Flesh Art at the New Jersey City University Gallery


The series centers on poverty, a first-hand experience. That poverty exists at all within our rich nation is disheartening. That over thirteen percent— nearly forty million people— lives below the poverty level is criminal, ranking our country among the highest among industrialized countries.

“Hung Out” imparts the sad reality that nothing has changed since I was a young Jewish girl living in Woodhill projects in Cleveland. Projects are today — as they were years ago — a microcosm of our poverty, and remain the 800-pound baggage engendering shame and secrecy, defiance and criminality. One is trapped in a project culture that turns inward on itself to survive, propagating the very issues from which one hopes to escape.

I did escape, not withstanding the scars that empower the narratives of the “Hung Out” series. A confusing intermingling of clotheslines, strung from decaying structures and hung with distorted shapes. The scene transmits a powerful semaphoric message with their fabrications of stained silk organza, rust, tea, hair, and animal skins, all exploiting the fragile boundary between what we show of ourselves and what we do not.


Beauty Lost and Found

Beauty Lost and Found

“A Question of Beauty” Exhibited in the “The Feminine Mystique” at the Jersey City Museum, 2007-2008.


“Fallout: Beauty Lost and Found”, “A Question of Beauty” and “Time Finite” examine the nature of beauty — or more appropriately, the loss of beauty and its resurrection using my hair loss.

Hair means many things to many people — a symbol for beauty and sexuality; a keepsake secreted into a locket or jewelry or pressed into a diary or Bible.

Conversely, hair is repulsive on a dinner plate or plugging the shower drain. These exhibits, however, focus on the beauty of hair and what that personally implies.

In 2005, I began precisely recording my daily hair loss. I collected it from the shower and brush. I manipulated it into a doodle, which was placed in a ziplock bag and dated.

The act that began as a documentation of the loss of beauty and sexuality, and all that it implies, became my way of recapturing beauty. It became a transformation, an ultimate resurrection of loss through the collection and transformation of my loss.


Skins and Vessels

Skins and Vessels

This is an exploration of texture, materials and surface — integrated with a biography beneath the surface. Skin conceals. Contains layers. And infinitely sheds itself to renew top stratums. Yet, here is paradox. Skin cannot journey through life unscarred, no matter its renovation. Examination brings forth an apt underworld depicted in marred and pocked marks and punctures here and there.

The painstakingly multi-layered executed stained paper pieces, on heavy French rag is surprisingly dimensional throughout thick masses intertwined with subtle twisting skeins and cosmic splatters. The illusion of layers are integral to surface, for illusion is always the life beneath the surface.

Small stained paintings and assemblages are framed in what one critic called “strange and haunting little boxes” that “shrink the sacred down to human scale. The boxes are miniatures, either reliefs or stained paper, each its own chapter.

The work is intimate, so much so at times that its underlying aesthetic takes a stretch in its coming.


The Last Tree

The Last Tree

The Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo NY, September 2016 – February 2017


“What do you imagine the islander was thinking when he chopped down the last tree?” Anthropologist Jared Diamond posed this question while discussing Easter Island as a culture that demolished its resources with no forethought. The Island, once forested and thriving, is now a barren lump with a poverty economy supported by tourism.

The cavalier, and frequently dangerous, attitude of powerful forces toward our environment is the impetus for my new installation — “The Last Tree”— that speaks to societies and their collapse.

Mr. Diamond aptly states:
“By now the meaning of Easter Island for us should be chillingly obvious. Easter Island is Earth writ small. Today, again, a rising population confronts shrinking resources.”

Easter Island dynamically portends our environmental crises. My question is: At one point do we realize our self-destruction?

Hair is a signature in my work for its intrinsic links to DNA and its endearing symbolism. Scarred and stitched textures, transformed from the silk organza I stain, metaphorically mimic surfaces, whether ours or natures. The organza-clad stumps, and roots in these works are stuffed with human hair, a symbiotic link to hair living beyond death, and a collective binder for mortality.

In the installation, the world’s recognized countries, 193 in total, are symbolized in a like number of fabricated stumps encircled in fabric roots. A lone last tree, isolated and stark, rises in the desolate plain of barrenness. The video looms above this graveyard, portending of what will be. Its rhythmic chopping is mesmeric in its meter and enhanced by the sound track created by Lin Culbertson. The Last Tree speaks to a holocaust of sorts, humans destroying a vital part of themselves. Curator Midori Yoshimoto states the work is “a cautionary requiem for humanity.”


La Longue Durée: A Long Moment

La Longue Durée: A Long Moment

La Longue Durée: A Long Moment, Pinnacle Gallery, Savannah College of Art and Design, January – March 2003


What is living but “a long moment”, inner selves protected by flimsy layers, often pierced, often transparent, yet enduring and even though scarred and marked by time, still beautiful. Beneath the coverings are layers, truths mostly hidden, yet revealed now and then, epiphanies coming in glimmers of light, only to fade and be replaced with new illuminations before all is dark.

This exhibit exists in a semi-darkened room. House bulbs hang within the floor-to-ceiling silk organza cocoon-like enclosures that are rust and tea stained and semi-transparent. Bulbs fade on-and-off at different intervals, permitting glimpses of time before fading. The exhibit continues an ongoing theme of subtly revealing the hidden, then paradoxically reversing that perception.


Labyrinth: Current Millennium

Labyrinth: Current Millennium

“Labyrinth: Current Millennium”, The Studio@620, St. Petersburg, FL, June – July 2006


Labyrinth: Current Millennium” examines the circular journey of lives, “the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.” It probes at what is not evident; secrets suppressed beneath a placid and engaging surface. The installation is an analogy of the uncertainty of humanity, the farce of us.

Within the Labyrinth of silk organza hang multitudes of bags of human hair, obscuring safe passage. Bare bulbs fade on and off in the organza spirals, intermittently illuminating elements.

Actual whispers —gathered from my website — are heard in the vortex. Secrets in the air, guilty, ashamed, some aggressive. In the depths of the Labyrinth, a security camera peers outward through the layers to capture viewers who seek clarity with their own nature.

The use of age-old materials — hair, silk, thread and encaustic — harks back to the ancients and their myths. Contemporary mediums like audio and security camera conflict with history, not unlike our own journeys.

Labyrinth: Current Millennium essentially poses a final question: Is a single thread strong enough to escape the metaphor of a personal Minotaur?


Hair Nest

Hair Nest

“Hair Nest 01” (detail) 2020


“Hair Nest” fuses my themes — beauty and the environment — into one. The series of 10 works incorporate 10 years of my hair loss. Each contains (1) seven-foot high drawing of a tree part; (2) cast or fabricated 3-D branch or actual branch projecting from the drawing or (3) nestling at the base of the drawing in a field of stones and other materials. The fabricated branches are constructed of glass, wax, silk organza or paper. Each work contains (4) a nest constructed from a year of my daily hair loss, either nestling in a branch or fallen to the base.

Scientists record twenty-two benefits of a tree, encompassing air quality, climate change, erosion and food as well as numerous other comforts. Tree markings —scars and burns — and tree-ring dating provide yearly climate history. The markings speak of an existence affected by elements beyond their control — drought, fire, disease and of course, humans. Yet, they endure.

It is hardly a reach to blend tree drawings and limb sculptures with my signature component — human hair. Hair contains our complete DNA and lives beyond death. The perseverance of trees, the permanency of hair. These concepts inspire the work and carry it forward.


Hung Out In The Projects

Hung Out In The Projects

“Hung Out In The Projects” 2010, The Morean Art Center


That poverty exists at all within the richest nation in the world is disheartening. That over nearly forty million people live below the poverty level is criminal. This places our country high in industrialized country rankings.

It is this condition, coupled with my first hand experience of a housing project that drives the installation “Hung Out In The Projects.” I did escape, not withstanding the scars that empower the narratives of the installation.

The installation is viewed from a scaffold platform in a semi-darken environment. Different parts of the installation are lighted at intervals. Several seconds here. Several seconds there. There are moments where all goes black. Enlarged poverty statistics project onto walls and broken windows. In conjunction, a soundtrack of discordant city noises is heard.

“Hung Out in the Projects” postulates two distinct views. One is from the scaffold platforms, looking down upon the scene, a separation between the haves and the have-nots. The platform holds an escape exit as well, one not available to those trapped inside the project perimeter. A second view are windows. Each symbolizes the experience of being a prisoner of the project environment, inside looking out, a trap within the trap.


Baggage Light

Baggage Light

“Baggage Light” 2004, Installation in Between Light & Dark at Artspace Gallery Hartford CT


“Baggage Light” exemplifies glimpsing the hidden in fractions of time. It continues a focus of secrets and life hidden, referencing the baggage we carry. The room is dark, work illuminated by bare bulbs flicking on-and- off at intervals. “Baggage Light” is an outgrowth of my first room-size installation “La Longue Durée (A long moment)” at Pinnacle Gallery at Savannah College of Art And Design. Longue Durée, or long term, is an approach to history pioneered by the Annales School in France. It’s a focus on events that occur imperceptibly over long periods of time, on the slowly changing relationships between people and the world with an emphasis on social themes rather than political or diplomatic.


Drawings

Drawings

“Study for The Last Tree” 2008, 5×8 inches, Graphite on moleskin paper


Drawings serve as an integral process for conceptualizing my installations and sculptures. The drawings are individual works stand on their own.


Works on Paper

Works on Paper

‘Tree With Nine Moons’ 1989, (detail) Monotype on paper, 42”h x 29.5”w


Works on paper include monotypes from the series ‘Falling and Flying Women’ 1988-1990


Body Builders

Body Builders

“After Venus”, 1991, oil, modeling paste, and collage on canvas, 72w x 112h inches


“After Venus”: Women Body Builders 1990 – 1995

Nude Amazons— powerful women body builder— transgress gender codes and boldly confront visualized and verbalized issues about women. Amazons are my metaphor, a magic charm conveying the inherent physical, intellectual and emotional strength of women. The work accentuates the myth of the Amazon, beginning in domination found in ancient matriarchal societies. Symbols from these times, among them the Sheila-No-Gig, Mena, and Yoni, impart historical coda into the dynamics of contemporary women body builders to provoke controversy of the female form, and underscore the long journey of the societal evolution of woman. Women body builders oppose master works of female nudes by male artists, ranging from Rubens to Picasso, and destroy the female as desirable “object.” Profound in my mind is the cultural context of male-female bodies, androgyny, and the undertone of tension between them. I want the work to transcend the parody of the stereotype and empower a new dimension in the continuing societal revolution of women.


Sculpture and Wall Art

Sculpture and Wall Art

“Inside Out” 1997-2010, mixed medium, 49w x 50h inches


Box pieces and wall sculptures


A Measure

A Measure

“A Measure: Animal With Shroud” 2020, 192″h x 62″L x 30″w, Installed at Creative Pinellas Gallery, Rolled and rusted steel, cast iron animal, rusted chain, old pillow, silk organza


“A Measure”

Early Greek philosophers, Aristotle prime among them, used the word “measure” in different ways, such as the distinct nature of a thing, a measure being that thing that is predictable. The truly moral person, for example, is a ‘measure’ because such a person shows us our shortcomings, according to one interpretation.

In the series I term “A Measure,” my objects are that nature of a thing against which we measure ourselves, and our treatment of all things living. They illustrate a revelation gained from artist Sue Coe who is famously known for drawings from inside pig factories in a talk I attended years ago. There, an audience member posed the question:

“How can you place an animal above a human being?”

The reply was her “measure.”

“If humans treated all animals, defenseless as they are, with humanity, think of how well we would treat each other.”

That, in essence, is the nature of my objects.


Creative Pinellas Annual 2021

Creative Pinellas Annual 2021

“Double Vessel No.8” 2021, Silk organza, cheesecloth, encaustic, rust, tea, thread, string, color pencil, on paper, 49”w x 49””h x 4”d


Creative Pinellas Arts Annual 2021

November 11, 2021 – December 19, 2021

Gallery is open Wednesday – Sunday 12 – 5pm

1211 Walsingham Rd, Largo, FL 33778

 

“Skins and Vessels”

The Chinese Wu Xing system lists wood, fire, earth, metal, and water as the five elements. This explains the nature and complexity of all matter in terms of simpler substances.

My work touches on all the elements as I seek to translate, disclose, and disseminate our emotional realities. Time… and accumulating objects over time are manipulated, exposing the seen and not seen.

Layers, and the illusion of layers, are integral to surface just as illusion is always beneath the surface. “Skin and Vessels” explores this premise, the hidden physical, emotional and spiritual layers and the chimera integral in all layers — ours, a structure, whatever.  It is an underworld depicted in marred and pocked marks and punctured here and there with thread and stitching. It continues a theme I have been exploring for the past two decades or so, that of surface and a biography beneath the surface. I reference not only humanity but the topographical life and layers of all objects.

The pieces are created with scratches and punctures that sully the surface along with a staining process developed over many years. These baths, which contain different elements and intensity combine rust from found objects along with pellets, nails, steel wool, chain, string and tea. The objects leave their decomposing marks on the skin of the paper or treated surface, penetrating to varieties of depths. Other materials are added, such as silk, thread, yarn, modeling paste, matte medium, human hair and encaustic.

Overall, two events influence the work. The first: Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which devastated New Orleans, pulled back my childhood as I watched the suffering there. As a young girl, I lived in public housing due to my father’s illness. This time of poverty resurfaced as I viewed the Katrina aftermath. It formed a fresh direction, exemplified by a major installation called “Hung Out In The Projects”.

The second is Jared Diamond’s lecture of the Easter Islanders, devastated through the rape of their own environment. His question: “What was the islander thinking when he chopped down the last tree?” resonated in me and inspired a room-size installation “The Last Tree” as well as other environmental works.

I continue to confront the questions of humanity and my habitat. The totality of my work through the years essentially begs the question: When do we recognize and act?

 


“Address: Earth” at Hudson Valley MOCA

“Address: Earth” at Hudson Valley MOCA

“Luna Window: Ladder No. 16” 2016
Silk Organza, rust, tea, human hair, encaustic, string, thread, yarn, old nails and reconstructed old window. About 93h x 80w x 60d inches


“Address: Earth” at Hudson Valley MOCA

September 1 – October 30, 2022

Gallery is open Wednesday – Sunday 12-5pm

1701 Main St, Peekskill, NY 10566

 

“Sculpture and Drawings”

My focus for the past seventeen years has been the existential crisis of our time, climate change and its effect upon the environment. This focus began after witnessing hurricane Katrina in 2005 and shortly after, I heard Anthropologist Jared Diamond lecture on the demise of past societies. These two incidents paved a journey of investigation into the links of greed as it effects the environment and one of its major aftermaths, poverty. Poverty is personal. As a young teenager, my father’s illness landed us in a subsidized housing project for three years. This period lingered in my mind as I contemplated the New Orleans ordeal and Dr Diamond’s words. It was evident a dominant minority was manipulating our natural resources to our harm.

These thoughts manifested in a series of room size installations and sculptures. My approach was a focus on the negative effects of climate change. “The Last Tree” the largest installation to date, debuted in SOHO at the ISE Cultural Foundation. Later, an updated version had a six-month view at the Burchfield Penny Art Center in Buffalo NY.

I utilize the unexpected and common materials in ways to stimulate experimentation, allowing new and multiple meanings. I’m a fan of Joseph Beuys and as he did, I take care in selecting raw materials, selecting those primarily from the natural world. Through these salvaged and upcycled materials, I developed unique techniques over time. For example: In a search to represent skin, I concocted a bath to stain silk organza and a variety of papers. It includes salvaged rusted odd objects and tea combined with salt and an encaustic process. Now underway is another experimental technique to create tree branch limbs and stumps, using my distinctively-stained silk organza as the base to felt with human hair. Commonly, felt is made with wool. Felting with human hair alters it, and defines a new purpose.

My current series “Hair Nest”, represented by studies in this exhibition, is a conscious attempt to flip to the positive; to reveal the beauty of an individual tree through the process of drawing and sewing. Each drawing is life size and details a tree’s skin or bark. Throughout the hours-upon-hours of rendering each, I am conscious of two facts: a tree’s resilience to withstand destructive human action, and conversely, our duty to care for these trees, a critical sustainable infrastructure of the planet. To destroy the trees is to eventually destroy ourselves.

It was a natural progression to combine the large tree drawings with my signature component — human hair. Most of my work involves hair; the loss of it, the collection of it and the transformation of it. As noted in the “Hair Nest” series, the nest constructed specifically from my hair loss places me with the tree essentially physically, symbolically, and metaphorically as hair contains our complete DNA. More so, hair contributes to the definition of self as a medium, again metaphorically and literally.

In the series “Luna Window” human hair is used as stuffing to create soft sculptures. The anonymous hair collected from salons over the years of this environmental and poverty leitmotif contains multitudes of DNA and physically represents humanity. Both ladder and animal in “Luna Window: Ladder No.16” are constructed of rust and tea-stained silk organza, and stuffed with substantial volumes of human hair. This body of work speaks specifically to the effects of climate change on the environment and one of its major aftermaths, poverty.