My current work plays with a collection of thrifted, handmade and found objects, bringing to the viewer a sense of both the beautiful and the grotesque. In my sculptures I explore repetitive domestic tasks such as knitting and embroidery and how they relate to themes of childhood, lost innocence, and family relations. Paper mache and stuffed fabric offer personhood and body to the sculptures I create. As the dominant colour, white helps to explore both absence and presence, innocence and guilt. The impressions of domestic darkness and familial rifts are exposed and contrasted by bright whites and simple objects.
My paintings arise out of making self-portraits obsessively for an entire year. After experiencing the loss of someone very dear to me, I turned to painting in an attempt to be honest about my grief. Our lives’ losses can wound us and leave us feeling scarred, broken, and ugly. Can portraits somehow relate to this? And what is our real attitude towards scars? Why are we so often ashamed of them?
Scars tell a story of a healing, and how healing is a process rather than a moment in time. I was recently inspired by a Japanese tradition in which healing is highlighted with a golden repair job. Through a process called Kintsugi, cracks in a broken object are transformed with gold, giving it an otherworldly beauty. Frailty becomes strength and scars become windows to see through. I believe that this concept can be carried over to us as humans. God loves the broken; he takes broken people and makes them beautiful. People are broken, healed and made new, becoming stronger and beautiful in those broken places. Golden scars form out of brokenness made new. Whether physical or emotional, brokenness and pain shape people and form an important part of who they become.
As I represent emotion and life’s experiences through rich colours and abstraction, the figures in my work are visually interrupted by hard geometric or organic abstract elements. There is a sort of shattering, falling apart or coming together with seemingly foreign elements representing beauty, frailty, strength, and transformation. I allow these things to push against the figures, making them more than simple representations of reality. Abstraction interferes with the portraits, obscuring, distorting, and changing how they’re seen—sometimes rendering them uncomfortable and confusing.
The abstraction in my work affects the figure, just as the elements of a person’s life can push in on them, mould them, and even break them apart. How do the events in your life, and how you face them, shape who you are in times of struggle, loss and sorrow?
Vulnerability and honesty, together, can glean golden healing and beautiful frailty.