Coming from a quirky midwestern home has influenced my work more than I ever thought it would. I am constantly being drawn back to stories and feelings from my childhood, both good and bad, clear and fuzzy. These influences include my mother’s obsessive stitching (both quilting and embroidery), and my father’s zany sense of humor (and also distance)—which culminated into my own anxieties as child. I was always accepted and loved, but there was an unspoken rule in which everything had to be “fine” all the time—feelings of depression, anxiety, sadness, and loneliness were not talked about. Being raised this way made me feel incredibly ashamed and scared when these feelings came on. I had not way of coping with them whatsoever, and it has not been until recently that I’ve had an outlet for expression.
My creative life oscillates between two vastly different, yet connected, activities: the solitude of embroidery, and the collaborative nature of improv comedy. These two ways of working seem at odds, but constantly feed into one another. Sewing gives me chance to slow down, take my time to react, and be comfortable being alone. Improv, on the other hand, requires quick thinking group mind, where I need to immediately react to what is in front of me while on stage performing a show that is not planned and will never be repeated. They blend in a way that allows me to actively “listen” to the artworks I create, seeing what they need from me, not just what I planned for them.
I appropriate text and imagery from punk music, botanical illustrations, childrens’ books, and comedy shows to create pieces that balance between comfort, humor, and mental health problems. Using both found and handmade textiles to represent my mother’s care, as well as my own obsessive tendencies, I create pieces referencing domestic life, but have been infected with the stigma we have on mental health issues. Using variations on dyes and ink, I examine how shame is cast upon someone. The dye chemically bonds with the fabric—the two become one, whereas ink simply rests on top—never fully becoming one with the fiber.
There is a truth in humor, often overlooked, that shows how absurd everyday life experiences can be. The funniest and hardest things are when you are being completely honest with yourself or someone. My work oscillates between funny and sad, empathetic and apathetic, sincere and sarcastic—drawing upon the dichotomies of the public appearance we put on and the fragile strength it requires to be alone. I aim to tell my story, not necessarily through a traditional linear narrative, but rather one that translates my perspective.