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Memory and Forgetting

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We are all a String of Memories.

We create our identity by experiencing moments.  Every moment is a memory as soon as it passes. I often think of a moment in the past and put myself back at that time.  Like trying to remember my daughter at the age of two walking for the first time.  We remind ourselves of who we are when we remember. At least that’s what I thought. In fact,  this is not true. Several studies have shown that the act of remembering a particular moment can be interpreted differently. Most importantly, the more you remember a particular event the less accurate the actual event becomes.

Every moment is a Memory Sensation

As soon as reality happens, the memory changes. The truest memories are those that are not recalled often. This fact is difficult for me to accept.

How can I not remember the first kiss I had with my husband? I seem to remember the place, the time and the sensation. So I did a bit of an experiment. I asked my husband if he remembered our first kiss. He didn’t. Sure he remembered the general time and place but his memory was more about the “feel”. That brings me to the most important piece. It was the sensation that was remembered. Not the detail of the time and place, rather, the connection.

My Work is Created from the Past

It is this fragment of a moment frozen in time that I try to find in my work. Many ask me if I create images that are my personal memories. No. I don’t use personal references. I use items that have a “look” of memory or are sourced from things from the past. Old photos, classic films, vintage magazine images all are references that reminds us of another time. With these little pieces of ephemera, I try to create a sensation of a memory. Not an actual event- rather a familiar image that reminds the viewer of a piece of nostalgia.

Nostalgia is defined as a sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period. The yearning is the important piece. However, I am not looking to put a piece of an event. Rather I am trying to create a sensation of a person, or an event and this creates a “yearning” for the viewer.

Like seeing an image of a woman riding a bike from the 1940s. Many look at this image and it reminds them of their mother riding a bike. The freedom and release reminds them of a special person who taught them to enjoy life and be free.

So even though this piece can reference a particular person, it is the sensation of the memory that is important. It is this sensation that makes us who we are. Not the little pieces of the actual events of time or place, rather the entire feel. Every moment is a memory and a sensation. It is this sensation that is the meaning behind my work.

To see a full Selection of  available Original Pieces click Here

 

 

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Art Has a Power.

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Art and its Power

Can the power of art change your life?  Can art change the world? It’s a question that many have asked and answered. Art, in its many forms, can reveal the power that we can acquire through the engagement and understanding of the stories behind art. For this reason, just filling a space in the wall with an image that has no meaning to you undervalues the power and impact that art can have. In fact, the power comes from you taking the risk to surround yourself with Art that inspires you, makes you feel the power that art can have.

“Art does not show people what to do, yet engaging with a good work of art can connect you to your senses, body, and mind. It can make the world felt. And this felt feeling may spur thinking, engagement, and even action.”

No one wants an empty life. A life lacking in colour, in drama and in story. This time of year can be a time of paralysis. Winter descends and the cold tightens its grip. Hibernation seems to be the best alternative. This is where the power of art becomes integral to moving forward. Dreaming of another time and place is integral to survival. And survival is where this year has began.

It’s a New Time;

Recently my teenage daughter mentioned to me that this was the most important time for women. In her opinion, there had not been a previous time as changing or life altering as the past year. I tend to agree with her. In my experience, of being a feminist for the past 35 years, I have not seen such a voice.

Movies, live theatre, literary and the music industry have all revealed that women are stating their case and choosing to be heard. Whether it’s in the media, or on the political stage, it has been women that have taken the lead to state their cases. Women artists led the charge with a loud voice of making their mark.  The art they have made, the stories they tell, all come together to collectively state their view of dismantling of sexist power structures.

I  believe I heard it state that this was a “tectonic” shift. Perhaps it is.

Paintings that tell the Story about Change;

There are times that I create art that sets a clear truth, a story of women together, walking, striding to the same goal of recognition.  The Empowered Series is an integral part of my artistic vision.

The painting highlighted is titled “Dance with Abandon“. A piece that brings to mind a story of admiration. The crowd beneath the girls dancing, (who are screenprinted onto the surface) watch in awe. This image of this crowd is from a 1960s Life Magazine photograph from the first NASA launch. It seemed appropiate to place this crowd with the outgoing dancing women.

We are at a point in our culture that we watch as young women take hold of the mantel and run for office. Although women have had a voice, their stepping up to take hold of the political dialogue through social media has enabled them to try to make change. There is a sense that being quiet and not acting is a form of apathy. Considering my 15 year old daughter’s voice, I don’t think that this is a option any longer.

 

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Enjoy the Everyday Sounds of Life

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Sounds of everyday life can be taken for granted.

When my daughter was young, she would wake up everyday with a song. Singing in her childlike voice I would listen as I wake up and revel in this moment of happiness. Just to stop and listen. The other day I asked  my 14 year old daughter if she still wakes up with a song in her head. Yes she said. There is always a tune in her head. She dances through her life. The sounds of everyday life permeate her world and she registers this moment.

In fact, when she was younger, she would dance after dinner. Everyday. At home and when we went out for dinner. I called it the Dinner and Show time which was an inspiration for a whole series of pieces that focused on dance.  My daughter doesn’t dance after dinner anymore, because the music is still within her.

I don’t wake up with a song in my head. I wake up with a list of things to do. Not that this is a bad thing, but I have to remind myself to stop and enjoy life a bit more. Like my daughter.

Melody in Language can be Art

Recently I listened to an interview with the musician Meklit Hadero who finds melody in everyday language. The composing of music from language, repetition of sounds to make a song takes the everyday and makes it into art. But then that is the role of the artist- to highlight the taken for granted and elevate it. To walk into the ordinary and create a  piece that makes you stop, listen and look.

Designing Joy into your Home

Most importantly, this concept of registering the beauty of everyday relates to the healing power of beauty. Our homes, our places of refuge,  are the places that we retreat to and recharge. To ignore this place does not help you move forward in your life. In other words, it heals and gives you the strength to keep going. Yet the sounds of everyday life can take us into the pleasure of unnoticed.

Importance of the Circle

In the post by Ingrid Fetell who speaks to how joy can be designed into our surroundings, she speaks about how our homes and workplaces have to have a conscious awareness of healing and comfort. She highlights how the circle plays a major role in this design.

What does the circle do? How is it powerful? Many of my clients question my use of the circle and my repetition of this element in my work. I have always responded that I use circles as a way to elevate the feeling of the piece. However, this use goes much deeper. In fact, as Ingrid states,the circle has a psychological healing piece to it. It creates balance, a sense of wholeness and comfort. Sharp angles, rectangles and squares, have more of a sense of discomfort. Not surprising that this is the case. There really isn’t anything like polka dots.

Painting with Circles

In the highlighted painting titled Floating Fragrance, the use of circles is repeated in the structure of the piece. The end result is the sensation of these women walking on air. The repetition of the ladies, in a pop art style, gives a contemporary vision of a cityscape. Layers and the ephemeral light makes this piece full of life.

In conclusion, the goal is to look and listen at your world. Stop and look at a painting in your home. Listen to laughter and music and be aware of how it feels. Above all, register the joy that surrounds you daily!

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Choose to bring the Joy in your Life

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It is Your Choice to be Happy

Choosing the joy in life can come in many ways. It can come from walking your dog in the morning as the sun comes up. It can come from just sitting at a cafe and enjoying the last few moments of warmth and sunshine before the winter descends upon us.  It can come from having dinner with your partner after a tough day.  Or similarly, it can come from going to the Theatre and absorbing a moment of beautiful classical music by the symphony. Most importantly,  it can come from looking at beautiful piece of art in your home that impresses upon you the celebration of the moment.  Art reminds us of the beauty- the moments that last briefly but can imprint upon our minds indefinitely.

Art reminds us of the Joy

Many who look at my work are engaged with the celebration of the Joy.  This is due to the fact that people walk into my booth at an art fair and remark on the stories that I create as part of my work. Yet every story is about the positive. The looking toward the brightness of the day. The place you can walk into and revel in the colour, the patterns and the beauty. In the piece highlighted titled “She Walks on Pink Roses” a story is created about a cool day watching the world go by. The flowers are embedded in the figure and give the story a place of softness and comfort. A place to remind us to be in the moment and enjoy the day.

Counter the Negative

For a long time I thought that this type of work was too sentimental. That it had a shallowness that we see in our pop culture. Well I no longer feel this. In fact, I see my art as a counter point to the negative. We seem to now live in a culture full of the negative. Certainly there is an overwhelming amount of combative and the critical debate. Of course for social change to happen we need the critical.  We need the empowered and the fearless to step forward. I am the first to support these actions. Yet what are the effects on our psyche?  How do you insulate yourself from this?

Choose the Joy! I know this may sound trite. In fact, it is not. Most noteworthy, surrounding yourself, and engaging with art that is beautiful,  makes us happier. In fact, studies have found  “that looking at a work of art can actually have the same psychological effect as the euphoric experience of romantic love.” Now don’t we all want to feel that romantic high? Above all we want the sense that “joy” is part of our daily life. It may comes at less of an impact with a piece of art that you look at daily. Or it may remind you, when you least expect it, that life is  good. 

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Commission a Painting and Preserve a Memory

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Commissioning a painting creates a family heirloom.

Commissioning a painting from me preserves a special memory. The client often realizes the importance of their family, and the experiences they had as they were growing up. The question becomes how do they represent these past moments?  Of course, a wall of photos or a mantel piece with special images recalls memories. But does this give them an emotional sensation that can be read by those who haven’t been there?

By selecting special photos clients are being proactive in preserving fleeting moments of their past. The result? Anyone who was not part of the “memory” can experience the identity and moment cherished by the one who commissioned it. A family hierloom is created and can be passed down through the generations.

Memory recall is also a “creative re-imagination”

Summer has always been my favourite time of year because of its preciousness. Since being a child I have celebrated this season and tried to create memories that will be with me for a lifetime. I am an avid sailor, as is my family,  and our time on the water are moments that I try to imprint upon my mind. In fact, through my life I have taken moments and consciously imprinted them. So I can revisit them. But this isn’t enough.

In fact, studies have shown that every time a memory is recalled the event changes. In the article titled The Human Memory, the act of remembering changes the event. Different contexts are added to the memory and new information gets incorporated into the original memory. One way to register the fleeting moments is by commissioning a piece of art that uses materials and images from family experiences and adventures.

Preciousness of memories can be preserved with a commission.

As an artist, I have the ability to create, interpret and preserve a memory of a precious time. As our children, or alternatively our parents age, there is a loss of what was.   Collecting old photos of my young children takes me into the time when their world was full of discovery and adventure. Compiling these pieces I look back at these memories and remind my self of the moment.

Collage of photos can recreate a special memory of family.

In the piece highlighted, Fun Adventures, there is a collage of old photos found in a family albums. The placement of these images together with a focus point upon one image of the two sisters puts the life of these girls in a context. A piece that reminds us of their journey together. The found photos are of children posing and the car reminds us of the family vacations. Each piece of this painting puts together a story that was momentary and beautiful.

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Storytelling with a Painting

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Telling a story with a Single Image

Storytelling with a painting, a static image, can be challenging. How is it possible to create an image that tells the different sides to the story? Recently I came upon a quote by the Jean Renoir, the son of the impressionist painter Pierre August Renoir. He stated that only a painter could “find the relationship between eternity and the instant, between the world and the soul”. In effect, he believed that film could never express a single vision.

Storytelling in a moment in Time

Positioning a moment in time, and how that moment would look visually, and reinterpreting this moment to the viewer has always been an interest of mine. Suspending a moment that is full of its colour and its energy can be translated in a variety of ways. The use of media and process, the use of colour and brush work, the use of pattern and repetition all creates a sense of meaning for the viewer. It is up to the viewer to look at the piece and feel the sensation of the moment. Trusting the abstraction of the image and what it connotes creates the meaning for the viewer.  Looking at the series of pieces in my collection, every piece tries to create meaning through the use of layers of collage and paint.

Perfection Spied and the Meaning within this Painting

The highlighted painting, Perfection Spied, is a perfect example of how a painting/collage can create a fun spin about body image and relationships. This piece blends together an impressionist style of the girls hanging by the pool looking distractedly at the body builder in the distance. The man, pumped up, was taken from a classic film titled Muscle Beach (1957) He is an image, a cartoon image, of masculinity. Setting him within this painting, in a realistic manner, disrupts the viewing. It is unexpected. This brings the image into another space then a predictive impressionist painting. The most interesting piece of this painting is this- the lack of predicting and the disruption of the story as it is being gathered by the viewer’s eye.

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The Meaning of what I Make

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The meaning of what I make?

Often there is a question about the meaning of what I make. What is the message and how does it relate to the viewer’s world? My work has a self evident message with the use of nostalgic imagery.  As seen in the painting highlighted titled Turn It On, this images brings to mind a fun party atmosphere with flowered paper, patterns and light colours. It seems to be self evident in that I work with found images from mid century resources and rework them into stories about our present world. Seems simple. However, when I create pieces I often think how the colour, the patterns, the transparency of materials also convey meaning. There is a deeper meaning. One that you don’t realize is part of the work at first, then it seems to become more important.

Message of materials

At times I use fabric patterns- the tissue paper with map making lines and text of Butterick printed on it. People who look at it have a moment of thinking about their childhood and how their mother sewed their clothing. It is a use of time that many no longer do. Yet when the painting is looked at- the message seems to change. It isn’t about a street in Paris. It is about the materials that make this image. In the painting Parisian Love Letter, there are handwritten letters, book pages from a romantic french novel and fabric patterns that layer onto the surface. Each piece builds the story about romance that the pop cultural image of the couple emanates. Each piece brings in the viewers alternate reality and experience. It has a depth of meaning that is not seen at first. It just builds as the viewer takes in the different pieces of materials.

Teaching the message of Art

This past week, as I was about to participate in the Cottonwood Art Festival in Dallas TX, I volunteered to present a demonstration of my work to a group of middle school kids. I realized as I was speaking that many create images without really thinking about the bigger picture. Media literacy is an important piece of education. The understanding how images convey meaning in a variety of ways is critical in being able to be a person who can critically think about their surroundings. Art plays a role in this. Imagery relates to advertising which in turn can relate to manipulation of reality. Things that we need to understand to get to the truth.

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Finding Her Voice

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Finding Her Voice

Sometimes a painting such as the piece highlighted titled Still I Rise, inspires a collective reaction of celebration and empowerment.  Finding her voice is a goal that every woman has. There is an assumption that with the #metoo movement women are allowed to speak and to stand up, but I don’t think this is the case. In fact, there are many messages that young teenage girls receive that say that they just aren’t good enough. That their voice, with its brightness and loudness, is not acceptable.

Awareness of the Subtle Messages

For the past eight years, my daughter has played hockey. This sport is not based upon the construction beauty, or how they look, but on the initiative and motivation on the ice. Two traits that I try to teach my daughter. I expected that the coaches would promote these values along with the respect that girls need to be able to express themselves. The value of being able to speak, to be themselves is especially important as young women enter into early teens. The ability to express their power, in turn, makes for a girl to withstand intimidation either from school, friends and eventually the workplace. But what do you do when your daughter is in a situation that does not allow her to speak? That she must be quiet, to accept and allow the Coach on the team to bully and be intimidating. The reason for not speaking? She is accused of being a trouble maker. Watching your daughter struggle with the personalities of fellow players, and the Coach staff was difficult. At the end of the season, we left with the knowledge that we both tried to assert ourselves and still enjoy the game. We both knew that this sport did more damage than not.

A Painting that Reminds Us Of Freedom.

Painting images that have an empowered sensibility reminds us that the images we have around us are important. In an article by J. Francis Davis titled “Power of Images: Creating the Myths of Our  Time”, stated that “myths are the ideas and stories that motivate daily behaviour.” Myths comes from images and if we surround ourselves with images that state it is Right to be Free then that in turn makes us stronger.

It is important to keep affirming that a young teenage girl has the right to speak up. For me, this painting and the group of pieces that I have created in my Women Series strikes at the core of being a woman- one who has the right to speak and be herself.

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How the power of Art can Change your Life

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Can the power of art change your life?  Can art change the world? It’s a question that many have asked and answered. Art, in its many forms, can reveal the power that we can acquire through the engagement and understanding of the stories behind art. For this reason, just filling a space in the wall with an image that has no meaning to you undervalues the power and impact that art can have. In fact, the power comes from you taking the risk to surround yourself with Art that inspires you, makes you feel the power that art can have.

“Art does not show people what to do, yet engaging with a good work of art can connect you to your senses, body, and mind. It can make the world felt. And this felt feeling may spur thinking, engagement, and even action.”

No one wants an empty life. A life lacking in colour, in drama and in story. This time of year can be a time of paralysis. Winter descends and the cold tightens its grip. Hibernation seems to be the best alternative. This is where the power of art becomes integral to moving forward. Dreaming of another time and place is integral to survival. And survival is where this year has began.

It’s a New Year, a new time;

The past few months have been a time that the relationships of power between men and women have been revealed. Movies, live  theatre, literary and the music industry have all revealed that women are stating their case and choosing to be heard. Whether it’s in the media, or on the Golden Globes red carpet, it has been female artists that have taken the lead to state their cases. The art they have made, the stories they tell, all come together to collectively state that 2018 is not a year of tolerance of sexist power structures. I  believe I heard it state that this was a “tectonic” shift. Perhaps it is. Time will tell if there are changes.

Paintings that tell the story of the New Year;

There are times that I create art that sets a clear truth, a story of women together, walking, striding to the same goal of recognition.  The Empowered Series is an integral part of my artistic vision. The painting highlighted is titled “Greatest Show”. This painting uses the glamorous Pan Am stewardesses as the point of departure. Women who were elegant and at the forefront of the professional definition of women’s work life. Yet there is a sarcastic twist to this image. A target practice image is set in the back ground with the text ‘greatest show’- which is from the circus promotion from Barnum and Bailey. These women walk with strength. But will they achieve their goal? I have been a feminist my entire adult life. I have yet to see equality, safety and respect for women. There is an expectation of a lesser accomplishments and stepping up is good. But will it be enough?

 

 

 

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How to preserve memories?

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How to preserve memories? Memories that happen in a glimpse of time that we experience and take for granted at that moment? There are many moments that we try to recreate through a photograph, a short film, but the actual sensation can never be recaptured.

As the holidays descend upon us, many are recreating traditions in the hope of experiencing a moment from the past. Food, gifts, gatherings are become a way to recreate the bonds that families have. These moments of the past can never be recaptured. They can never be re experienced because of age, loss of family name and just time. As my family gets older and my children become young adults, I find I grieve the loss of their childhood. This time of year has reminded me that those moments when they were young were precious and brief. There is no way to go back except to share stories with them about the “remember when”. This is the closest I can get to reliving the memory.

All of these moments of trying to understand these feelings of loss are entwined within my work in the studio. As an artist who works in the realm of nostalgia I try to understand the layers of meaning behind an old photo. Who were these people who stand so straight for the camera? What kind of lives did they have? The object of this image has a different meaning to me than to the owner of this image. This is the tension. This is where I try to find a way to communicate the sensation of this time through my own artistic interpretation . This body of work looks at the nostalgic in an very personal way. It looks at the peons moment of experience.

In an article looking at the role that art has in memory, there is a discussion in the challenges that artists face in trying to find a way to capture a memory that honours the sensation of the moment.

In the featured painting I show, titled Flying Like a Butterfly, this piece brings to mind the vintage postcards of the waterskiing shows from the 1950s. The looking at the moment of time. One that was glamorous and fun and full.

 

 

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