As an artist my inspiration, passion and fascination has two aspects – the natural world and my fascination with the media themselves.
First and foremost, the natural world, the beauty that I see in everything around me flows both consciously and subconsciously through all my designs. Due to my scientific background I am fully aware of our connectedness to the natural world and the delicate balance that we endanger moment by moment. Living as part of a natural world, rather than with the mindset of being separate or above it makes it part of everything I do. And it is intrinsic in all my work. I may not even see it until later (I have a pendant that I wear often that I thought was just abstract but numerous people have commented on the frog in it which I see so easily now). Whether just the hint of a line or curve, a color, a simple movement, or the “full blown, you can’t miss it leaves and vines” that have become my trademark, the natural world exists in my work as it does in my life and as something that I hold sacred.
Second, I have a fascination with the materials that I use – the medium is where the passion lies, the hardness and softness, the ability of the metal, clay, or glass to take so many different shapes and forms – hard geometric lines, smooth bright surfaces to wonderful flowing lines and endless textures. It is my ability to take raw materials and making them “move” with my hands into the shapes and textures that I picture in my mind that fascinates me. This process gives me a sense of power, control, or of random chaos or helplessness. Then there is the endless source of color that can be utilized – from raw stone, to fine faceted gems, different colored metals, clays and glazes, glass, the palette is endless. As a result of this fascination with the transformation of materials, I feel my work has a strong sculptural aspect. Other mediums don’t, in my opinion, lend themselves to so many different options. Both clay and metal are malleable and that is the beauty of these media, and what I can do with them is only limited by myself not by the medium.
I really don’t try too hard to design my pieces. I can start with a stone or a group of stones and then just start to doodle, selecting a form of wearability to start with, and going from there. The stones can dictate what I do with them, or I can make them fit into what I have preconceived. Often, I will see a curve or line, or a color that will trigger and idea, then I go looking for the stones to reflect the color, or just draw the curve or line and go from there. And then there are the times that I will start with the finished piece complete in my mind. I have seen these as I drive down the road, in the middle of the night (dreams or nightmares….). There is a process – not the same for every piece but there is that initial idea, curve, color etc. that begins the process of refinement and clarification. It is that initial impetus that I don’t want to overanalyze – I just let it happen, and am grateful that so far that well has not run dry.
I am part Bolivian now. I found a second home in a people, a culture, and the exuberance of the natural areas in a country I called home for 6 years. The act of living was so much more there than I have ever experienced here in our American culture. They have not lost the art of smiling, kindness, trust, family. It’s not a utopia but there is an essence there that I like to think became a part of me and that I hope is not worn out of me by our closed and scared society. Dancing is an integral part of life in Bolivia – for fun, for tradition, cultural, courtship, sacred, duty, joy. It seems that this has become one form of expression in my work – female forms dancing, joyous, ritual, and sacred. Even now in my jewelry there are these dancing forms that keep appearing. And I danced while there, and even now in my studio while working I tend to put on great Latin, Brazilian, Andean music and I dance while I work. My work as a wildlife biologist in the tropical forests has also strongly influenced my work. I often include some form of leaf or feather in my work , some recognition of the overabundance of nature that exists in the tropics. The tropics swallowed me and I slid down its gullet gleefully – Palo del Diablo, Mayero, Dengue Fever, Epipidobates, Tapirs, Harpy Eagles, Soroche, Laguna Colorado, Ruellia, Lachesis muta, Homonota horrida, Ara, Aratinga, Thamnophilis – I close my eyes and it is all there – color, sound, smell, laughter, joy, even heartbreak and pain. Bolivia is so much a part of me it can’t be separated from my work, even if I don’t consciously mean to include it in my designs it is there always.
And now I am a mother of two exciting giggly children and through their eyes I hope to see so much more beauty surrounding us in our home in the mountains of Virginia. All these currents – nature, science, Bolivia, the Blue Ridge Mountains and motherhood – course through my life and are the same currents that govern my creativity. I lead a charmed life.