How did you get started doing what you do?
I’m not really sure. I’ve been working the way I work now for a very long time. I had a pretty unconventional upbringing which really influenced my work and career path.
How would you describe your creative style?
Backwoods American folk art dolls acting out scenes from Scandinavian fairy tales? The daydreams of preadolescent witches with anxiety disorders? A pile of sticks wearing a long dress and some little hands digging? Maybe something like that.
What’s your inspiration?
I’m inspired by a lot of things and they’re always changing, which makes me happy. I love religious imagery, iconography, and shrines. I’m interested in the sentimental nature of decoration especially in regards to superstition, faith, and magical thinking. Mostly I’m inspired by women and femme symbols/traditions. Folktale narratives are another big influence for me: stories developed from generations of storytelling are always rich with nonsensical but deeply impactful imagery.
What is art to you?
A way of seeing, living, and of keeping busy. I think art-making can be approached as a way of processing as well as expressing ideas and experiences. I asked my good friend who’s been painting for the better part of eighty years about what motivates people to be creative and she thinks it’s a childlike impulse: like: “Look what I can do!”
How long does it typically take for you to finish a piece?
It really depends on the piece. Collected together as photographs my work loses a sense of scale, but I’ve made life-sized character sculptures from clay as well as very small ones only a few inches in size and that really affects the production time.
How would you say your surroundings have influenced your work?
I would say my hometown dramatically shaped how I approach my practice. I grew up in a really beautiful place with mountains, trees, and not too many people. They say there are different kinds of intelligence; I’ve got the nature brain. I’ve always been interested in arts & crafts and things snowballed from there. I started incorporating plants and other found natural objects into my work very early on. Actually, most of my work from the last few years include dried plants from the garden of my childhood home.
What do you hope to accomplish with your work?
I’ve always considered myself a children’s lit illustrator even though, obviously, my personal work deviates from the genre. I would like my books and images to be a sort of safe space for weird kids. I think children are more drawn to nuanced and sometimes dark stories than we might suppose, and I think that’s natural. Stories that reflect the complexity of lived experience are just more compelling.
What do you want others to take away from your work?
I want my work to haunt people a little, but in a good way.
What’s your dream project?
I’ve got a bunch! Someday I want to create really large-scale installations with sculptures and puppets and murals — just completely explore my world.
What art supplies do you use?
I use a really diverse set of materials, none of which are archival. I think of my prints and digital images as my finished product while I often dismantle and reuse elements of the original pieces to make new work. I create dioramas out of paint, clay, and found objects. I used to work more with shadowboxes and spatial dioramas, but lately, I’ve been working flatter on boards and stretched fabric. I relocated to NYC recently and since then I’ve started incorporating more geometric shapes and metal objects into my scenes.
What’s your process like?
I work additively and subtractively with clay, paint, and a variety of other things to build up the surface of my pieces. Most of the time I start with clay, bring the sculpted elements up to my desired level of finish and start adding other elements. My process differs from painting and drawing in that I construct all the different elements of the piece separately and bring everything together at the end.