Where are you from originally and where do you live now?
I was born and raised in Ohio and still call it home. I live surrounded by woods in a small town, but I find myself in Cleveland almost every day. Cleveland is an amazing city that is reinventing itself, with the art community at the heart of the transformation. There is a wonderful network of artists, galleries, museums, and arts non-profits.
What are these collages made of? Where do you find your materials?
My collages are created with images that I cut from books from the 1700s to mid-1900s. I am constantly hunting for old encyclopedias, field guides, science manuals, and anatomy books at book sales, thrift shops, and antique malls. I recently found a first edition set of Encyclopaedia Britannica printed in the 1700s with stunning copperplate engravings by Andrew Bell. I fell in love!
What is your process like? How long does it take to create one of your collages?
The most time-consuming part of my process is cutting out all the little images from the books I find. The images are then spread out in categories such as leaves, birds, and moths. When I start a collage, I only have a basic image in mind. It is a very organic process, mixing and matching images like fitting pieces into a puzzle. I am always surprised by the outcome. The time it takes to complete my collages varies, but generally between fifteen to thirty hours.
Are there certain periods of time you are inspired by (the Victorian Age comes to mind)?
I am inspired by the era of the curiosity cabinet, when science blended with myth and the beauty of fact and the fantastic were celebrated together. I love the scientific illustrations that come from that time period. I am also inspired by the Victorian era concept of the momento mori and the aesthetic of Christian rituals and icons of that time.
You combine the majestic (butterflies, flowers, the Virgin Mary) with the grotesque (a human heart, an eyeball). Why these unusual combinations?
I find an eyeball just as majestic as a butterfly. I celebrate the interconnectivity of nature, the fact that everything is made with the same building blocks. Creation and decay, the majestic and the grotesque are all intertwined. Oddly enough, stages of decline and decay can be very beautiful like stages of vigor and growth. As I’ve been creating collages, I’ve noticed, too, how different forms mirror each other, for example, a butterfly with the same shape as the human pelvic bone or an eyeball resembling the form of a certain seedpod. I am really attracted to those similarities.
What are some of your inspirations (artists, makers, design, objects, books, movies, blogs, etc.)?
Since I am a very visual person, most of my inspiration derives from what I see around me. I love hiking and beachcombing and collecting nature specimens which serve as inspiration in my studio. I have shells, roots, bird nests, seedpods, bones, and all sorts of other treasures tucked around my space. My studio is like a curiosity cabinet stuffed full of all sorts of random things that act as my muse. When I travel, I try to seek out natural history and medical museums, curiosity cabinets, stores that specialize in oddities, botanical gardens, and old churches. I take a lot of photographs that serve as a catalog of inspiration as well as collect books with reproductions of old scientific illustrations. I am constantly looking for new artists in books, magazines, blogs, and galleries that will influence my artistic practice. Some of my favorite artists include Henry Darger, Michael Borremans, Jockum Nordstrom, Kiki Smith, Neo Rauch, Karl Blossfeldt, and Liz Maugans. I am also very influenced by film, especially old works by such directors as Jean Painlevé and Georges Melies. For the past few years, I have been working through the films of the Criterion Collection.