Artist Statement

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Empathy is the power to imagine a world outside your own experience.

The objects and prints I make remind us of those contested spaces between domination and struggle, strength and weakness, wrongs committed and rights uncorrected. Although seemingly disconnected, they hold a complex layer of meaning that operates within the personal and private, and the public and historical.

At some point an artist needs to ask what is at stake in their work. Where the work states their belief system. All the matriarchs in my family have been members of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in South Dakota. All were sent away to government boarding schools, to realign their cultural heritage. I can trace my Native heritage back six generations to Ita ta Win (Wind Woman), born in the 1830’s in what is now South Dakota, and her mother before her. I have the writings of my great grandmother, photographs and native beadwork, my mother’s baby moccasins, yet I am a white woman. Knowing the reality of one’s history is one thing, but coming to terms with how it happened leaves an indelible mark that lies somewhere been outrage, sympathy, heartbreak and pride.

The history of my art making has not just referenced the facts of my own lineage, but has included the homeless, prisoners, police, hyenas, unsavory characters that pose a threat or danger, lead fishing sinkers that look like bullets, fish hooks, references to small pox, floating feet, facts and myths, porcupine quills and squashed and rusted beer caps. Certain objects I collect can be considered to be part of the cultural archive of United States history and memory, and have the potential to remind us to act against forgetfulness about the past. Objects that have been passed down over generations also leave a legacy that tells us something about history and memory and the meaning we attach to it. In some cases these objects have witnessed events which are long past and their histories have been rewritten. Using the portrait as a means of showcasing the objects, I hope to give reverence and remembrance to the dignity they hold as objects but also allude to the period in time from which they come.  Although each object is different in their own right, they carry together a message of how all outcomes are connected, whether through truth or treachery. They are linked, either through threat, rewritten histories, or neglect. I am interested in making art that pictorially expresses a feeling, a sense of loss, a sense of injustice, sometimes with extreme force but often with a bit of humor. My work is a narrative where the viewer decides on the outcome.