The conceptual themes that run through out my work have to do with identity and landscape. I am interested in identity formation in relation to that of the individual and that of the collective – meaning the identity of a community or a culture or a nation. I connect ideas of identity with the landscape. I understand landscape to be a terrain that can be geographical but also a terrain that can be about memory or nostalgia, or a terrain that is historical. This informs my research as an Art Historian and the visual language I develop. I understand culture and identity to be complex, political, and often-contested ideas. I think a lot about the nature and location of culture and how it informs identity. Where does culture reside? Is it contained within a geographical space or does it exist in people? Is it something that crosses time and space? Is it inherited? Is it a habit or is it a choice? Is culture something remembered or is it something that can be claimed? Is it something we can choose to embrace or deny? How is culture connected to art, national identity, and capital?
I identify with multiple belongings—being part of many places but not solely located in any particular one. I am intrigued by hybridity, inbetween spaces and underrepresented perspectives as a means and site of knowledge and alternative histories that are more inclusive.
My art practice is varied in expression, but an interest in process and materials are consistent. I engage with patterns and materials as signifiers. I like to use materials that have a historical fingerprint to make an unexpected contemporary statement. The abstract textile collages I make are composed of stained and heavily worn vintage lace, seams, trim, ruffles and bindings structured in a grid form. For me, these pieces hold a comfortable tension between painting and sculpture and fine art and craft. I like to think about the abstract patterns in the material as protein folds of DNA that cross bodies of water and continents, and cross the bodies of ancestors. I intend the textile patterns to evoke text, music, history, and the presence and work of women. My choice to use porcelain introduces a material and conceptual tension between that which is precious and fragmented.
I am exploring the capacity of materials and aesthetics to create a visual language for identity that acknowledges, respects and celebrates difference and also expresses collective identities tethered to history, culture, economies and geographies. In looking for new non-binary ways of seeing and expressing these ideas, I draw from theoretical ideas of hydrarchy, Rhizome and Édouard Glissant’s work The Poetics of Relation. In my desire to find a non binary visual language for identity formation, I find new possibilities from Deleuze and Guattari’s ideas of the rhizome as a theoretical framework- one that is non-hierarchical, heterogeneous, multiplicitous, and acentered.
The original definition of hydrarchy refers to the organizational activities of a ship. I have been particularly intrigued and inspired by Hydrarchy: Power and Resistance at Sea which was a group exhibition that “Examined the contested cultural, political, social and economic territories of the sea and the offshore. Focusing on specific events, situations and mythologies attached to past and recent maritime history, the works address power relations at sea and the forms of resistance and survival developed as a response. Hydrarchy: Power and Resistance at Sea brings together artists whose works explore topics ranging from colonialism and piracy, to tourism and offshore trading (http://www.e-flux.com/announcements/36486/hydrarchy-power-and-resistance-at-sea/).” I became inspired by the notion of hydrarchy as a way of shifting my perspective and understanding identity formation from a land based and fixed orientation to the fluidity of the sea. This guides me to find visual forms that describe identity formation in flux. I seek to broaden the scope and range of narratives to include the movement of ideas, materials, and people under forced and voluntary conditions in the interstitial spaces between nations.
The heart of my inquiry has to do with what the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society eloquently describes as Othering and Belonging. Toward this end I am inspired by Édouard Glissant’s theories in Poetics of Relation. In particular I am captivated by what I have interpreted as suggestions that there is only difference and identity formation is not fixed but rather ever in a state of becoming. He says, “One of the full-senses of modernity is provided by the action of human cultures identifying one another for their mutual transformation.” His work informs my art practice and it also guides my research and pedagogical engagement with the history of art.