King County Art Gallery, Seattle
This work began with its title. It comes from a phrase used by Amish quilters as metaphor for the color choices used in their quilts, as well as a referencing their beliefs about the struggles and triumphs as a faithful human being. You cannot have brilliant sunshine without creating dark shadows. And, likewise, the deep shadows of life provide a contrast and greater understanding of our brightest days. I’m particularly interested in this phrase and ideology because it’s a simple idea used to describe a utilitarian domestic object, yet at the same time, a profound understanding of the human condition.
I chose the title for this show when my own life seemed clouded with a darkness. At the time, I chose it to investigate the shadow in my own life, not realizing that it was true; I too, like all of us, would be happy again and my sadness was and is a part of my happiness. This work began in the dark and ended in the light, but the shadow is always there
The work for this installation, inspired by these ideas, stems from borrowing forms and materials from the domestic environment as a way to investigate a struggle at the heart of much of the work I do. With the struggle between our human nature and our animal nature, where do we fit into the natural world – where do we belong? We create the domestic environment to house our fragile bodies (a domain of both the male and female human animal) as well as to be a text of our ambivalence and longing to rejoin the natural world.
I am intrigued by the rupture between the romanticized domestic interior (like what we see in decorator magazines like Martha Stewart & House and Garden) and the truth of where we really reside. We are still animals – the nice sheets get covered in sweat, stains, smells, grease, hair and other body fluids. I have aimed to overlay these images on top of one another.
These have taken shape in forms I borrow from these magazines, such as forms that resemble trophy heads and antlers – images of death and a virile desire to concur nature. My antlers are billowing over with decorative illusions of nature sprung-eternal – ruffles, sequins, and a cornucopia of flowers I’ve sewn from old clothes. The Shadow Garden urns are, likewise, borrowed from our domestic manicured gardens , at once images of death to memorialize lament , as well as silent containers of a blooming future.
The braided rag rugs have been a labor of love, sometimes maddening and relentless. They are true vortexes that contain a thousand connections to an unknowable amount of people, braided from over a mile of old clothing. It has also been pointed out to me that they reference an emasculated bulls-eye target. They are meant to both invite you in to this place and keep you out.