I was trusted with sharp objects from an early age. Fillet knives, fishing hooks, needles, and nails gave me lessons in dexterity and diligence. I relished every dirty, hands-on activity in which I found myself immersed, like when I was six and insisted on putting leeches on my own hook, or when I was eight and my dad bravely allowed me to raid his tools for experimental bird houses. Today I approach making art with the same curiosity and exploration of materials.
The physical and emotional exercise of deconstructing or transforming materials becomes a way to process and share my experiences growing up surrounded by hunters, fishermen, and fur trappers. I pull apart wasp hives, skin beaver tails, felt plant and animal fiber, and crush turtle shells. Through these interactions, I develop tactile and metaphorical relationships with the non-human world that explore ideas of observation, memory, preservation, and transformation.
The work included in my MFA thesis exhibition Peeling Back / Layers of Loss is an exploration of my relationship with death and the environment through the main figures of the tree and the deer. It is the collective residue of learning to hunt, losing my father, and losing part of the forest. It is an attempt at honoring and accepting impermanence, an engagement in ecological thought. While I process my materials and emotions, I am also engaging in research and experiences not only from northern Minnesota but across state lines and continents from Beijing to Yellowstone,
The “final” works manifest themselves as photograms, photographs, assemblage, and cast metal forms.