My practice investigates ideas of adornment in relation to the human form. A choice to attach an object to the body drives me to question and create stories. People I meet, places I travel to and cultural histories I learn about shape my work.
The world I live in is grey, white, black, sometimes a bit of gold, in a traditional sense. As a trained metalsmith our palette is limited, edges are hard and soft, materials unforgiving. Digging deep in the grays for many years, I finally saw some orange and fell in love. Orange is perfect- bold, warm, but not sunshiny, peppy but not preppy. When I let orange into my heart, all the other colors followed. Orange is a consummate foil- it’s contrast with the other colors fizzles, they are their best self. I still fabricate, but my material of choice is long wearing laminate. You know it as Formica or Wilsonart, it colors your bathroom or kitchen or lab counter. When laminate arrived on the scene in the 1950’s it was so unquestionably useful, it fit right into the tapestry of our lives and we never questioned its history.
A 15-year engagement with this material has yielded some answers about innate strengths, limitations and possibilities. Can this material tell a story? Can it make a transformation from quotidienne to precious? Is the transformation dear enough to generate a lust to put it on our body?
The perception of pattern on form is the focus of my current work. A historical system of protective ship coloration called “Dazzle Camouflage” inspires my recent line of inquiry. Dazzle Camouflage was used on WWI warships, and never sought to conceal as a traditional camouflage pattern would, rather to confuse. The angular forms painted on a hull represented a 2D flattened ship, with a heightened perspective, that gave the appearance of traveling in a different direction. Dazzle caused “visual disruption” and confused estimates of speed and direction (necessary for launching a torpedo.)
My current research is called “Contemporary Camouflage” and asks questions of how we conceal or reveal ourselves, as is often the case in the animal kingdom. (Coloration and mimicry in nature influenced early ideas about camouflaging in the theatre of war). My adornment can fade into the stripey blouse you are wearing, or jump out like a rosy wine stain. Choices made about signs and symbols give insight into our true selves. The work I make embodies a hope that it will journey into the world, to set a small fleet of wearers adrift with a sense of joy and possibilities for the future.