I was born in San Francisco and grew up outside of New York City, in Montclair, New Jersey. I come from a family of modest means. My father was a news photographer in the military and left both professions for factory work when I was about two years old.Coloring books and paint by number sets were my only exposure to art until I was mesmerized by Michelangelo's Pieta at the 1964 World's Fair in Queens, New York. In 1968 I began studying mathematics at BradleyUniversity in Illinois butafter one semester, encouraged by friends, I changed my major and entered the College of Art. At 18 years old I walked into my first art class and found my passion.Since then this passion has defined my life.
Graduate school in AmherstMassachusetts is where I began to find my voice as an artist.I was transfixed by the color and texture of the natural world around me and started to reference the landscape in abstract, intricately detailed geometric work. Large areas of mark-making with colored pencil, graphite, oil pastel and pastel, over thin veils of acrylic paint, replaced the heavy paint layers of my earlier canvases. Drawing became a more integral part of my process. In 1978 I was awarded an eight month fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown Massachusetts.Looking closely at architecture in the landscape, my new images incorporated elements of the built world. It was in Provincetown that observational drawing became a regular practice for me. Upon returning home to NorthamptonMassachusetts in 1979, I became immersed in a large public art project with the Hestia Art Collective. We researched, designed, and then painted a 3600 sq ft outdoor mural depicting the history of women in Northampton. Funded by several art and humanities grants, the painting was awarded a Governor's Design Award in 1986 and was restored by the community in 2004. I moved to New York in 1980 where jobs at the Whitney Museum and the Blum Helman Gallery gave me immediate access to cutting edge contemporary art. While in New York I made my first trips to Italy in 1983 and 1984 and spent weeks looking at paintings by Giotto, Fra Angelico, and Piero della Francesca. A year later I moved to Boston. In 1993 I spent a week in the old city of Pompeii with a group of cultural anthropologists studying household shrines.As they measured and mapped, I sketched the niches and mosaic designs adorning the ancient walls and became fascinated with a large floor labyrinth in one of the houses.This initiated research into cross cultural symbols, which I investigated in more personal narratives entitled Internal Landscapes.I began using supports like gypsum board, mulberry paper, and limestone for work with, graphite, oil paint, watercolor and egg tempera.In addition to their appealing physical properties, they referenced the traditions of art which informed my work. In March of 2001, I began a series of drawings entitled Smoke. Six months later planes flew into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon killing more than three thousand. This event shifted the direction of my work. For more than two decades my artwork has explored the mediated experience of wartime. Pausing to examine the details of violent events, my work has attempted to both humanize these tragedies and to combat the numbingeffects of a media-saturated culture.
War is a feminist issue. Women are often most seriously affected by violent unrest. If the injustices suffered by women around the globe, especially those traumatized by war, ceased could we transform this paradigm? Does educating and empowering women lead to more peaceful, egalitarian societies? Would training women to be economic catalysts help to alleviate poverty and change the conditions that lead to oppression, brutality and terrorism? Lately I have been expanding my studio practice into social action in response to these questions. Currently I am developing an art installation, One to One, which collaborates directly with women from Afghanistan who are attending literacy programs there. The installation includes a series of built structures. Fragile, delicate yet stable, these skeletal wood constructions refer to the framework for progress that women’s education can provide. The armatures will be embellished with a variety of materials including the artwork I am commissioning from my Afghan partners – a collection of 8’ x 10” drawstring bags with hand images embroidered, beaded or sewn on them. The individual hand images signify power, strength, blessing, protection, and justice.