Statement & Bio
Abstract expressionistic painting allows me to stay in the moment.
I create mixed media pieces utilizing papier-mache technique to create dynamic textures on which I layer my paintings. My pieces are one stream of action upon another, which are reflections of the current moment linked with the next. Diving into these paintings provides the viewer with windows into atmospheric, alien and undulating worlds. Each world is representative of what can be created by the painter and the viewer, if both are able to stay in the moment.
I can’t remember when I first started making art. My Mother’s large Merriam Webster dictionary has evidence of my need to put pictures on pages at a very young age. Drawings of stick figures with no bodies; only heads with arms and legs scrawled onto the pages. I won a Unicef Art Award at the World’s Fair in New Orleans when I was 8 years old. The subject of the contest was water.
I was commissioned at the age of 10 by a local bookshop to make a contour drawing of the crowd gathering on the shop’s opening day. In 8th grade, I entered the honors art program where I had free reign of the art room 5 days a week. And in high school, I had amazing teachers who taught me how to draw still life and self-portraits with pencil and charcoal, paint surrealism, sculpt clay, hand make books, etch glass, marbleize silk, and build with papier-mache in the method of Mardi Gras floats. The art room was my safe haven. A place for exploration and the one place where my fluctuating teen-age confidence was always at its highest.
Mom's brand new dictionary that I "illustrated" at age 3.
At the recommendation of one of my high school teachers, I applied to Boston University School of Fine Arts. I entered my freshman year of college eager to start large-scale sculpture, visualizing a blowtorch in my hand, only to realize that BU offers one of the most classical art educations in the country. Three-hour studio classes had me drawing with charcoals attached to three-foot long wooden dowels, oil painting and sculpture, but all of only the live, nude figure. These studio classes were broken up only by Art History (affectionately known as art in the dark) and the mandatory liberal arts classes necessary for graduation.
Feeling stifled halfway through my sophomore year, I dropped out and started working in a café within a gallery in Boston. I saw an ad on a bulletin board: a senior in the BU School of Hospitality was looking for someone to help her decorate wedding cakes for a small business she had started for her senior project. Working with her, I felt more creative than I had during all my time in art school.
I enrolled at the School of Hospitality and turned my focus to culinary arts and business. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, I began working in restaurants, which was a hard-working and hard-playing lifestyle. I moved back home to the French Quarter and lived life.
I hardly ever sat down to do art but there was creativity everywhere. Making costumes became an outlet. I never was much of a sewer, but I loved to make papier-mache crowns, face painting, accessorizing…piecing together elaborate personas to take on for one night and then ripping them apart, making variations and new costumes from the old. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was keeping my art alive and finding my process.
Growing up in New Orleans was living in a constant stream of artistic inspiration. Mardi Gras costumes, parade floats, Mardi Gras Indians on St. Joseph’s night and Super Sundays…a never-ending visual bombardment of color and creativity. Being raised surrounded by New Orleans culture has embedded a constant beat in my being. Theme music that becomes the back drop of any New Orleanians’ life.
In 2008, three years after Hurricane Katrina, it became obvious that our family needed a change. We longed for the outdoors and moved out West to Ashland, Oregon. There, I learned to mountain bike, ski, and surf. Over the years, surfing has become a favorite family past time and coastal trips are common. Being in the ocean has a meditative quality; I am not able to think about anything except what is happening NOW. It was that feeling that brought me back to art.
One day in 2013, I started painting. I did not think about what I was doing or what it would look like when it was finished. I had never created abstract paintings before, but that is what started coming out and it felt good. It was as if I was taking all of the mediums that I have ever been taught and creating something new and exciting. My work has evolved into a multi-media practice and a style has emerged. It is here, back and forth between the ocean and my studio that I find a steady wave of art.
I live and work in The Rogue Valley of Southern Oregon with my husband, Goody and daughter, Nora. I play in Crescent City, California where the ocean keeps me strong and inspired. And I often visit my hometown, New Orleans (also nicknamed The Crescent City), where the strength and rhythm of my heart beat is renewed.
Photo of me in Crescent City, CA by Jeff Burlingham of Nature Reigns