What were your early influences?
When I was young, my grandmother made me a wonderful gift that I adored of a half dozen scrapbooks from images in magazines. I still have them! These were my introduction to collage.
I grew up in the Bay Area of California and I still vividly recall shows my mother took me to at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Seeing great paintings in person had an enormous impact–Kandinsky’s wild abstractions, Klee’s surrealism, Franz Marc’s Blue Horses, Van Gogh. I especially loved this small-scale self-portrait by a wonderful woman painter, Paula Modersohn-Becker. I’m still drawn to the painting. It seems to express innocence, suffering, and growth, a sort of feminine power that I aspire to.
The collages published here are from your ‘Aerial Dream’ series. Could you describe your inspiration?
The idea for the first ‘Aerial Dream’ came one day when I was at the park watching flocks of sparrows flying free through the trees, like space aliens. I was feeling sore and pulled down by gravity. Soon after, I began to collect images of wings and make other things into the shapes of wings.
Do your ideas often come from life experiences?
Ideas also come through visualization or sometimes a particular found image that is like a first line. The collages build on each other. They’re based on life, fantasy and dreams. ‘Retribution’ was peculiar because while I was making the collage, I had a dream about it. I felt so guilty that in the dream I threw an egg at my former sister-in-law who had just died. It did help to understand the personal side of the collage.
Each of the poems published here seem to offer insight into the collages. Could you describe this more?
I do like to explain my collage through poetry more than an intellectual approach. My Artist Poem is an alternative artist statement. ‘Explanation to Him’ came from a conversation with someone trying to understand the collage ‘She Rises’.
People without an arts background can be nervous about their ability to understand. I always encourage people to trust their imaginations. I think my poems are a lot like collages and my collages are like tiny poems that take a long time to make.
My visual art and poetry can be taken together or separately. I want to create a multi-level experience so that people connect and relate in multiple ways.
How do you juggle collage and poetry?
I’ve learned to follow where the energy is. I especially like to write when I have trouble sleeping and my language is a lot freer, whereas working on a collage can keep me up all night. I love it when the two mediums merge but I don’t try to force it. Feeling excited about what I’m making in any media is key. I also draw, watercolor and experiment with photography.
I know you are dedicated to using less toxic art materials. Are there other reasons you particularly like using recycled source materials?
I’m attracted to the imbedded, often invisible history in found imagery. For instance, I used Eleanor Roosevelt’s dress without her body, and then I found a quote that especially fit the piece that I wrote inside the folds. Somehow it matters to me that the children in the ‘Watermelon Universe’ are gypsies, or that wings came from ancient statuary.
In your writing and your art, you have the tendency to break things down and put them back together. Where do you think this comes from?
I like to put orphan pieces back together in odd ways, yet so that they seem to belong together. It’s mostly aesthetic, though the new wholeness is part of what I’m after.
Anything else you would like to add?
I love it when people find my art inspires them to try collage for themselves. I began by collecting images from magazines long before I knew I’d get into making collage. I have collage journals just like I have writing journals. Non-stick double sided tape is helpful for this, though it can stick over time. If you already have a writing journal, you might try adding found imagery.
One excellent book I’ve used when teaching beginners is Creative Collage Techniques by Nita Leland. It covers practical matters and offers exercises. On the Internet, collageart.org is a vast resource. I’m very honored to be included in their collage artist links.