The Kansas City Art Institute, 2003, BFA
My work uses sculpture, theater, and performance to explore the tensions between the natural world and the manmade, the animal and the political, and the past and the present. Themes of environmentalism and social justice are examined through narratives focused on memory, imagined landscapes, and loss. Often in my work, I think of memory as passages in time where emblems of the lost eras (bison, mammoth, ruins) can be reflected on in conjunction with current political or environmental concerns. At other times, objects themselves may express spatial and transformative power: a sculptural yurt can evoke the grounding relationships of past nomadic tribes to the cosmos, in stark contrast to today’s bureaucratic displacement of peoples. Political narratives and collective memory are also problematized as state-based violence and mnemonic prosthetics (the photograph) receive allegorical treatment using sculptural masks and tableaux vivants.
Born and raised in a small town in Kentucky, my first exposure to the tableau vivant type of sculptural performance I now use in my art was through the Christmas nativity put on in the Lutheran church I attended as a child. The congregation was so small only four children were available to fill the parts. Every year, I would perform the parts for all the animals in the nativity making quick costume changes between a plywood sheep covered in fleece-like cotton balls to a donkey to a camel. I worked in close proximity to animals on family farms and as a horse trainer throughout high school and college. In retrospect, I find these experiences both working with and embodying animals influential to my current investigations and artistic practice.
I received my BFA from The Kansas City Art Institute and my MFA from The University of Pennsylvania. I have received numerous awards, including grants from The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, The Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation, The Puffin Foundation, and Franklin Furnace Archive. Residencies include Yaddo, The Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation, Sculpture Space, The Women’s Studio Workshop, and The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. My performance pieces have been shown at HERE, Socrates Sculpture Park, The Select Fair, and the Bushwick Starr in New York City and The Marran Theater at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, among other places.