My work signals its history from the material properties of fabrics – what happens when the fabrics are subjected to various procedures: cutting, folding, sewing, staining, dyeing, and brushwork. The paintings are informed by postwar European abstraction (Alberto Burri, Supports/Surfaces, Polke) and the Pattern & Decoration movement, but I try to avoid citation. I think I work like a phenomenologist. Consciousness is “intentional,” that is, directed towards concepts, thoughts, ideas, images etc. from a certain perspective. My certain perspective is that of painting in all its states, not as an object but as our experience of that object.
NOTES on painting from an interview from 2016:
1) Where do the titles for your works come from? Some seem to be referencing song titles, lyrics, or poetry. How do they relate to the process of creation, do they serve as inspiration or a follow-up to the product?
The titles I give my work come from many different sources, but mainly from songs by my favorite bands (like Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth, Pavement), poetry and phrases that run through my mind. They reference moments and people in my life, and also the music that happens to be playing in my studio when I work. My paintings often deal with highly personal and emotional content, which might surprise some viewers who see it as formalist or process oriented. The titles come after the fact, but the feelings they express are there at the beginning. Sometimes a painting will be inspired by a book I’m reading. I recently titled a painting ‘After “The Neutral” ‘ because I was reading Roland Barthes’s lectures ‘The Neutral.’
2) Dichotomies seem to play an important role in your work: domestic with artistic, formal craft with gestural art, and so on. Did this exploration of womanhood and American society begin with Soft/Surface? How has your conceptual and philosophical focus shifted over time?
In some of my previous work I was very concerned with feminism, which I addressed through using and misusing domestic items such as drapes and bed sheets. I still use household linens, and run them through the washing machine as part of my process, and I’m aware of how that relates to the traditional domain of women. But the Soft/Surface works are also about a dialogue with art history, especially with the French 1970s movement Supports/Surfaces. I’ve been looking at artists like Claude Viallat and Noël Dolla, and also Alberto Burri. Like a lot of those artists I work with unstretched supports, on the floor or on the wall as I build the paintings. My paintings have a nomadic quality as I am making and building them. I can fold them up and carry them in a suitcase, which is helpful since I travel often between New York and Houston. For me, the painting isn’t finished until it’s stretched. I learned to sew when I was really young but I’m not a very good sewer. I only use the sewing machine because it’s the best way to connect the pieces. Much of the work comes from my interest in abstract painting, fabrics and patterns, fooling around with sewing machines in my grandmother’s and my mother’s sewing rooms.
3) How has your artistic process changed over time? I.e. moving from stills from pop culture to fabric paintings?
At a certain point working on a blank, white, finished primed surface wasn’t enough. I wanted to have a conversation that went further or deeper than a flat solid plane of color. There are only so many ways you can divide up a painting. By the time I got to graduate school it seemed so formulaic to make a painting. Things were too easy on that flat pristine surface. It was so liberating to make a painting on a piece of fabric and then to cut it up and rearrange it as many times as I wanted. It’s like finding another way to solve an equation. All of a sudden I could make paintings that were not like anything I had seen before. Everything else seemed like I was borrowing from other people. My hand is still present in how the paint gets applied to the fabric but then I cut up the gestures and marks. What I like is the unexpected. When I finally stretch the paintings both the material and the paint change as the fabrics are pulled. This could never happen with a conventional canvas.
4) What to you makes a painting a painting?
I always have in mind David Reed’s concept of “bedroom paintings.” My desire is to create paintings that you want to look at again and again and again, which I know is a very tall order, but that’s what I’m trying to do.