I am a sculptor, organic grower, and community practitioner from rural Maine. A primary focus in my practice is utilizing natural, repurposed, and biodegradable materials, keeping the environmental footprint of my artistic production as small as possible. Conceptually, my work focuses on interspecies entanglements, food production, food equity, the marketing of “natural” products and the interconnectivity of environmental and social issues.
Much of my work utilizes gourds, one of the first plants to be domesticated. I constrain the gourds in molds or constructed shapes as they are growing. The resulting hybrid-gourd forms reference their origins as molded shapes, but have individual mutations determined by the struggle of the fruit growing in the constrained environment. Once I have harvested the gourds, I dry them and use them to create sculptural pieces or tableaus. This balance between constructed and natural is a tenuous one: calling into question the motives of human manipulation and control, and the destructive tendencies of these proclivities.
This collaboration with the gourd plants is a slow process with a high attrition rate; the gourds do not always grow into the molds well or can shrink or rot after harvest. It can take several seasons before I get useable forms. Growing and harvesting my art materials keeps me connected to the cyclic process of farming, helps me to be attuned to the soil, weather, seasons, and health of my local environment. It also strengthens the conceptual connection and visceral quality of my work.
I have been building on my investigations of interspecies entanglements by using natural latex to create casts of mushrooms I find on my farm, and trees that have been damaged by equipment when the woods were logged fifty years ago. These irregularities (scars where the trees have been forced to change their growth patterns, or anomalies in the fruiting bodies of the mushrooms) document the coercive forces that surround these organisms and the resilience in their adaptations to the changed environment. The nuanced impressions serve as visual metaphors for the damage we endure and inflict (both visible and hidden), the beauty of resilience and our symbiotic relationships with our surroundings.
I often partner with plants to create my pieces, but I also collaborate with members of my own species and have worked on community-based projects for middle and high school students that explore issues of food production and consumption. I recently worked with a writer to complete a book, Duet; a chapbook of poems and images exploring glimpses of growing up female in a rural environment.
My work has been exhibited internationally for the past thirty years. Recent venues include Governor’s Island, New York, Myhren Gallery, University of Denver, Amos Eno Gallery, in Brooklyn, N.Y., Nola Gallery, New York, N.Y., The Crane Art Gallery in Philadelphia, PA. and Maine Farmland Trust Gallery in Belfast, ME.
Reviews of my exhibitions can be found in several publications, including the New York Times, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Hyperallergic and Westword.
I have been the recipient of Maine Arts Commission, Harry Faust art Fund public sculpture grants and McGillicuddy Humanities grants that supported community projects investigating issues surrounding food production and the environment.
I have been a resident artist at Mass MoCA, Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, and on Governor’s Island. I have written and lectured about my work, my community practice, and design education related to disability studies in the United States and Brazil.
I currently serve on the faculty of the art department at the University of Maine in Orono.