I use my own black and white photographs as the source imagery for the background or environment for my paintings and drawings. After I’ve sketched out the main elements of the background I place creatures pulled from Slavic mythology, folk tales, and pop culture into these environments to become protagonists in a loose visual narrative. Sometimes they are stand-ins for my husband and me; sometimes their identities aren’t clear. Either way, they exist in a colorful and stylized realm that is superficially inviting but upon closer inspection is filled with anxiety, fear, and uncertainty.
These creatures are repeated in my three dimensional work so that an uneasy dialogue is formed among the drawings, paintings and sculptural pieces. Rooted in craft techniques such as needle felting, egg writing and crocheting, and incorporating found materials, my three dimensional works are mini-environments that reflect some of the places represented in the drawings. Whether drawing, painting, or making three dimensional works, my processes are repetitive and labor intensive. Images are built through layers of mark making. Larger sculptural works are comprised of multiples of smaller three dimensional pieces constructed through techniques that require repeated motion like hand stitching or felting.
These self-comforting processes seem to solidify anxieties and imagination into fact, “a possessing rather than a picturing” in the words of American painter Philip Guston. I feel that deliberately building up the work through layers is similar to the way that personality is developed through experience, and that these symbols and gestures repeated create an illusion of truth.