I am compelled by the loveliness and awfulness of humans in the world.
A bit of conversation: who says that? A pair of shoes: who wears those? Those ladies gesticulating, something in the newspaper: I want to know who are they? Why are they doing that? Humans are ultimately strange to me, and I work to illuminate that strangeness. My project is to further the cause of individuals rather than stereotypes.
I was raised in the 1950’s, in West L.A., in love with beaches, sprinklers and sky, acutely aware that it was already a ruined place. My back yard had lizards, we found a tortoise, there were butterflies: I took solace in the natural world. I like to look at human encounters with the natural world, particularly when the humans, deep in their dilemmas, don’t notice, don’t even think of themselves as being part of the natural world. I write (or paint) an animal into the human story and I shamelessly anthropomorphize; my friends the birds speak to me, though not in my language.
What is the art? It’s a way to see; it’s the pleasure of using the body to make something; it’s layering of object with idea. Making a concrete thing—Look at this!—helps me think. And when I’m lucky, the process surprises me with more.
What is the writing? It started when the death of my mother rendered me speechless, without imaginal response. I began to write. Then I began to paint again, and I made a book about her, paintings and narrative. Now I work across forms. Some things cannot be put into words, it seems to me, and some things must be said. As with the art, when I’m lucky the writing process brings surprises.
Someone once asked me how I “knew” to make art, as though it were a calling, as though Someone had reached down and anointed me. Oh, it’s not like that, I said. It’s just that I seem to be happier if I have a little project.