Tell us about your artwork, medium, style, subject matter, etc.
After working as a graphic designer for Apple Computer, Adobe, and Atari for 20 plus years, I decided to get back to my first creative passion, textiles. At University of California Davis, I studied textile design, before there were computers. Surface design on fabric happened with techniques like, photo silk-screening, stitch-resist, and wax-resist, using procion and inko fabric dyes. After my career as a graphic designer, I started dyeing scarfs and opened an Etsy site. Now I am on a quest to listen to my creative voice and make art. I prefer using plants for dyes and the impressions you may see are prints from an actual leaf or stem. As far as subject matter, I would say, the earth, geometry, what’s in the soil, what’s in the human body, animals, and children come to mind. What is in the natural world and what is not seen interests me also.
Fiber is the common thread in my work. Whether it is the fabric or the embroidery thread, the materials start out white and are then colored with natural dye from plants. I like to have some control over each element, and at the same time leave room for the materials to speak to me. I enhance their natural beauty, or in some cases imperfections. Handwork such as embroidery is therapy for me, and I like to stay loose in my work. I like to create objects where people question what it is, it is a success if the viewer sees something that I don’t.
What are your biggest challenges in creating art?
My biggest challenges are finishing projects or deciding when to stop. I experiment a lot, take notes on everything I do, and keep various journals. I have so much work tucked away; sometimes I take them out and let them tell me what they want to be. Another challenge is speaking about my work, which is something I want to work on.
What is a day of working like in your studio/creative space? Do you have any rituals that help you get motivated or in “the zone”?
I come to my studio at the Alameda Artworks, as much as possible. I am balancing multiple things at once, some days are about dyeing with my propane stove, and others are about assemblage. I love just being in my studio with no interruptions, I have a comfortable chair that I sit in to think and meditate. Some days I am more open to creating, and others are all about organizing. I subscribe to Creative Bug, which has online classes, and sometimes I decide to practice a new technique. I have a Singer featherweight sewing machine that was my husband’s mothers, which I use for free motion drawing. I can go into a zone just letting the sewing machine take me on a journey, in which characters and faces come to life.
When you are in need of inspiration are there particular things you read, listen to, look at or do to help find that idea or fuel your work?
I look online and follow other textiles artists. Living in San Jose I can visit museums like ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art), San Jose Art Museum, and the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. I like to take workshops to learn new techniques, and or polish my existing skills. I took a week class at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Tennessee, which was fabulous. Came back super inspired and cooked in the parking lot of my studio for weeks.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I grew up in Sunnyvale California, before it was Silicon Valley. I studied engineering at University of Washington, before switching to a design degree. I spent many summers at Lake Sawyer in Washington and always wanted to live and study there. Couldn’t get used to the lack of sunshine and came back to California.
What advice would you give others just beginning their creative careers?
Don’t be intimidated by other artists that seem like they have it going on . . . cause they are regular people just like you and me. Ask a lot of questions and get to know your local art scene. If it doesn’t exist, then start something, like an “art group”. Just like in the corporate world, relationships are key, so look for a community. Keep on learning and practice, practice, practice. I like this quote from the artist Kiki Smith, “Just do your work. And if the world needs your work, it will come and get you. And if it doesn’t, do your work anyway.”