I identify primarily as a teacher, and a collage-artist. So, I generally have an idea I want to work with as a starting point, and a lot of times it is based in my work as an amateur historian. From there, I gather primary sources, and other materials that spark my interest as both inspiration and collage items. I take a lot of notes, and plan some forms for the project to take. Then I start building, or weaving, or writing. I try to keep my work and practice loose enough that I can always alter a form or introduce new ideas to a piece as they (inevitably) come along.
I proudly identify with the term crafter and practicing a craft, especially as a woman who works with fiber and writing. I love holding the word close to my heart and recognizing the many many years of tradition, work and knowledge that went into the creative disciplines I now participate in- not that my technique is perfect or meticulous- I'm sloppier, frequently, than I wish I were. I think of myself as an artist too, but I prefer crafter/artisan because I think it reflects the gratitude and kinship I feel towards the artists who work with me now and have come before me.
To be a good teacher! My high school art teacher absolutely changed my life and a large part of that had to do with teaching functioning as a creative practice. His room was always an open humanistic experiment filled with love, ideas, and good discussion. Now he's off being awesome receiving a named doctorate to teach other teachers, but I am still inspired by the idea that my creative practice can come with the way I work through the constant give-take that is teaching. So, my goal is to be a really awesome - and creative- ally to the young people I work with.
I love the process so much more than the result and am still trying to sort out a way to make the result as pleasing to me. I went to RISD (the Rhode Island School of Design), which is in some ways the ultimate tough-room. Tons of energy went into preparing huge pieces of work for critique each week. My way of taking the stress out of this was to focus my energy and joy in the process, so I could shake the critique off and get working without emotional stress. Now that I'm done with that, I wish I could take some more time to breathe deeply and enjoy the fruits of my labors and in the future, do a better job of promoting and maybe even selling them!
What is you favorite thing you've ever made?
I once hand wove an 8 foot long cloak using a very complicated tapestry weave for a friend who had passed. That project meant so much to me, and I was given the most beautiful cotton yarn by a mentor after describing the project that I then dyed myself. It still makes me a little sad, but I love it as an object that lets me feel resonance with a person who I miss a lot. I love that I was able to MAKE that comfort out of something as simple as string.