Thursday, July 30, 2015

Pearl Stories, No. 4

Siri Kvalfoss from Tyssedal, Norway sent pearls to me in late April, mentioning in her hand-written note she had learned I was looking for pearls on April 27; the letter was dated April 28 and I appreciated her quick response. Her 15 faux pearls were hand-sewn to a piece of white linen alongside a wonderful geometric embroidery also in white. In addition to the individual teal stitches holding each pearl in place, she had also stitched a delicate 1/2" x 1" section, creating a free-form, yet thoughtful composition. I learned later that she had also done the white embroidery, Hardanger-embroiderya traditional part of the national costume of her district, Hardanger, and taught to her by her grandmother. The words that accompanied this small artwork stated the pearls were "totally fake, but nice anyway," which made me smile. Siri also mentioned she felt compelled to sew them to the linen. The excitement of her text, punctuated with exclamation points, and the lovely presentation of her contribution seemed so heartfelt to me... and here is this person in Norway whom I have never met, connected to me by a common interest in metalsmithing, and she had taken the time to not only send me pearls but to go even further and send them sewn in this manner. I was thrilled to receive her contribution and even more excited to be connected to her more through the Pearl Piece.

Read the other Pearl Stories herehere and here.

Thanks for reading. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Pearl Stories, No. 3

Virginia Hungate-Hawk sent me three faux pearl necklaces that she found amongst "all kinds of things one keeps but does not move away with." Her metalsmith mom had just turned her childhood room into a studio and Virginia had to sort through things she had left behind when she moved away years ago, things like ticket stubs and old jewelry. The change seemed bittersweet for Virginia. As she wrote in the note she included with her contribution, she had encouraged her mom to make the change, but it had caused her to realize one "never can really go home." This got me thinking about all the times I moved and all the things I left behind, got rid of, gave away, held on to, or put into storage. Objects mark time. They remind us of people and places and our attachment is personal and often rooted in emotion. I have a huge collection of jewelry and there are many, many pieces I haven't worn in years, but I choose to keep because they remind me of something or someone. As I thought about my jewelry, I remembered my own faux pearls including a bracelet I wore at my prom when I was 16. I know exactly where it is in my childhood home and I think I'll have my mom send it to me here in San Francisco. It needs to be a part of this piece. Virginia said she can't remember details of the necklaces she sent, but perhaps she wore one of the strands to her prom, too.

Read the other stories here and here.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ten More Days

Sea and Land, Land and Sky

Parallel Constellations will be on view at Crown Nine for ten more days. It's been great to have the work there because it's among some pretty incredible handmade jewelry by artists from around the U.S. and it's being seen by a different audience every day. I know a few pieces have sold, too, which is very exciting of course! If you live in Oakland, or the Bay Area, I do hope you'll stop by, see the show, and say hi to the wonderful women who work there.

In Tandem

Maps: Magnetic, a collaborative piece with Raissa Bump

Crown Nine is open from 10-6 Monday-Friday and 12-4 on Saturday. It is located at 515 9th Street in Oakland, CA.

Here's a link to Crown Nine's blog and a great post about the show.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Necklace No. 12, For My Dad

Necklace No. 12 from Collected Memories: 1974-Present

My dad's birthday is today. He would have been 70. This is a necklace I made about him and a pair of earrings he gave me when I was 17. Each color represents a stage of his life: childhood, his life with my mom, my brother, and I, and his life with Alzheimer's. The shape of the folded fabric pieces represents the shape of the earrings. My father had been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's when I made it and this knowledge weighed heavily upon me. I could not help but consider how he was losing his memory as I was trying to recreate mine through my work. This necklace represents a key moment for me and my understanding of my use of memory.

In honor of my dad's birthday I will take a long walk along the ocean, a place he loved. I will also eat some cake.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Pearl Stories, No. 2

I have known Shava Lawson for years. We met in Seattle in 1999 and went to school together at the University of Washington. We were both in the BFA metals and jewelry program and have been friends ever since. Shava's package was the 17th one that I opened back in March and I remember being really happy to see her name in the return address. I opened the top crease of the yellow envelope with the blade of my scissors and carefully pulled out the matching card. Inside the card was a string of pearls, traditionally knotted and missing a clasp, draped from side to side. I lifted them to read the note and learned they had belonged to her grandmother, May, who was also an artist. Shava wrote that she had been wanting to do something with the strand for "quite some time" but decided I should have it because my pearl piece "feels so right." She also told me how excited she was to send them all the way across the country to "land in [my] hands." I was just stunned and I couldn't believe what I was holding: such a precious gift, now given twice.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

California as an Island

I have a thing for islands. I like reading about them and studying them. I make work about them and see myself as one. There is one in particular that I long to be on, all the time. I also love maps and, again, I like reading about them and studying them. I've been paying close attention to maps of California and San Francisco and recently found a resource of very old maps of California as an island. I learned after visiting The Glen McLaughlin Map Collection, a collection of maps depicting California as an island, that California was imagined this way and even after the truth was discovered it took years for "the island to attach itself back onto North America on maps." Further, I find this statement fascinating:

"the maps lagged behind reality and became a cartographic phenomenon that defied the science of mapping." 

Lagging behind reality and defining science give me pause... I was intrigued to learn about this version of California and see my new home state in a totally different way. I think I was comforted finding these images, too, because I like islands so much.

map of Iceland, my favorite island

Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Two More Addresses

Wayfinder, detail

I moved to San Francisco from San Jose on Friday. I'm now in a place I will be in for awhile and have a chance to find my way around a little before grad school starts. This move got me thinking about the piece I made in 2014 about all the places I have lived in the United States since the first time I went to school. Wayfinder is a visual record of my homes and is composed of tools to help me find my way back to each of them, to aid my memory of each place. A map, an address book complete with every address of every apartment, a pencil, a compass, and the key to my childhood home. The topmost form represents the four states I have lived in combined to create a new state, my own state, complete with lakes, mountains, and low lands. Delicately inscribed on this map is the path of my movement from one city to the next, each represented by the tiniest of piercings. Now, after only one month, I can add two more addresses to the list for a grand total of 27 places, 12 cities, and five states. I won't alter Wayfinder, but I've been imagining how it would change if I did.

Moving is something I'm used to and something I've come to accept as part of my life. It may not be this way always, but as long as it is I will continue to just go with it, and enjoy it. I dig into a new place with fervor regardless of how long I will be there. I treat each place as if it were a long-term spot. I unpack and nest, I walk everywhere, I figure out where the grocery store is and which coffee shop I like best. I try to learn as much as I can and be as present as possible. San Francisco is a city I have admired for a long time and I'm thrilled to have a chance to get to know it better. It's also the most urban and populated city I have ever lived in, and, most definitely, the opposite of where I was living before, a small town of 1,200 people in the middle of farm country. As I stated with a recent Instagram post, I'm looking forward to the fog, and so much more.

foggy view on the Golden Gate Bridge

Wayfinder, 2014

wearing Wayfinder the day I completed it


Thanks for reading.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Pearl Stories, No. 1

When I first conceived the idea for my Pearl Piece and began my public call for pearls, I just thought it would be cool to collect a pearl from a bunch of people. I thought the sculpture I would make would be about the size of my fist. When I got back from Iceland and found a pile of packages waiting for me I realized pretty quickly that I was "off" in my thinking. And now, to my absolute delight, I've gotten pearls from 96 people. It's been gratifying to open each package and I often find myself in tears as I closely examine the contents and read the accompanying note or card. These 96 people have been so generous and thoughtful, sharing unique and sentimental pearls with me. Many of these pieces and their stories are too wonderful to keep to myself...

So I'll start this series with a pearl bracelet from Tracy Scott who lives in Atlanta, GA. Tracy is a collector of my work and over the years we've shared lovely back and forth conversations through email. I was happy to get her package because she has become quite special to me. Then I found myself speechless when I opened it. Inside was a card and a black box. I opened the card first to find thoughtful text describing the pearl bracelet she had sent accompanied by two photographs. Tracy told me it was the bracelet she had worn at her wedding in 1992. She also wrote it carries "very joyful memories" from her to me. The photographs were from her wedding: one of Tracy and one of Tracy and her new husband. Wrapped among layers of purple tissue paper was the bracelet, a double-strand of big, creamy pearls. Wedding jewelry, or any jewelry worn on a special occasion, is incredibly personal and sentimental; to let something like this go seems like a big deal to me. The bracelet felt heavy in my hands, in a good way, as I looked at the photos and then closed the card.

And, yes, I'm still accepting contributions! As soon as I'm settled in San Francisco I will post a new address you can send them to. Please email me at if you have any questions.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Thinking About Bark

Every morning I take a walk around San Jose where I'm temporarily living until I head to San Francisco and every morning it seems, I spot a plant or tree I've never seen before. When it comes to trees I often notice the bark first, which is more textured, layered, and complex than any trees I've lived around before. I started collecting pictures of bark on my first walk and have been adding to the collection over the past couple of weeks. My observations got me thinking about what bark is, what its purpose is, and what it can symbolize. Bark serves as a form of protection from other living things, from weather, and all sorts of outside forces. It helps get nutrients to the rest of the tree, keeps moisture in, and out, and insulates from cold and heat. It's also constantly renewing itself. I see it, first and foremost, as a protection mechanism, and have been contemplating all the ways we humans protect ourselves from physical, mental, and emotional dangers, all the mechanisms we use, or try to use. I'm also thinking about renewal... 

Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Updates Updates

I updated my website over the weekend to reflect the works-in-progress I described all last week and two recent groups of jewelry, Architecture and At Once Final. I added brief descriptions for most of the different bodies of work and changed many of the thumbnail images. I also added a link to YouTube where you can see my work-in-progress videos, which I will add to more often now. Awhile back I updated the artist statement section to reflect new versions and a brand new general artist statement that describes what I strive to do in all of my work. Here is that statement now:

"I am devoted to observing the world that surrounds me and questioning the human condition through the lens of my own life experience. Through a variety of traditional and exploratory multi-media techniques, I create jewelry, objects, and installations that hint at memory, time, loss, and the layered sense of self I believe we all carry. I intuitively select materials and forms to represent the intangible and to create abstract narratives. Using my own memory of people, places, and objects, I seek to communicate the duality of the human experience, convey emotion, and connect with others."

I hope you will visit the freshened site!

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Sea for My Birthday

May 1, 2014, 7:58pm

When I was in Iceland in 2014 I celebrated my 40th birthday, and for the entire month of May, my birthday month, I took a picture of the sea standing in the same exact spot. Every day I would walk to the rock wall across the street from SÍM where I was a resident artist. I would climb on top of one particular rock and place my foot in a groove that perfectly fit the side of my left combat boot. I used this groove as a tool to position myself in the same way for each photo, and it was a ritual: walking there, climbing on that one rock. placing my foot just so, looking out, taking a picture. I would also try to pause for a moment before and after taking the picture just to look.

I've been holding onto this series for over a year, thinking about it occasionally, and now that I'm without a studio, it's a great time to move forward. I'm trying to decide what to do with the images so I'm playing around with collaging them into a grid or a calendar-like composition. Another thought is to position them horizontally, side by side, in one long line or to create a book with one image per page. My friend, Brandon Dawley, who does all my graphic design, is helping me with the cropping, using his expert skills to get the horizon line perfectly centered in each image.

May 31, 2014, 9:21am

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Light on Water

My collection of videos has gotten pretty big since I began making them in 2013. I now have videos from many of the places I've traveled to both in Europe and around the U.S. These pieces show things like light reflecting on water and subtle movements of light and shadow. I see these recordings as materials and would like to use them somehow in grad school. They are stored in a number of places on my computer, mostly in folders and/or in iPhoto and iMovie, as well as on an external hard drive. I'm taking time to organize them into one place, plus a back-up, while labeling them and identifying my favorites. I'm already having trouble finding a few, which is upsetting, but I'm glad I'm doing this job now before things gets more disorganized. Since creating and keeping video is still new to me, I don't have a filing system in place yet, unlike my photos that are well-organized after years of documentation. Being without a studio now seems like an opportune time to do this rather picky work. I'm also creating stills from some of my favorite ones, which I love doing.

I uploaded a few more videos to my YouTube channel, like the one above taken on an island in Sweden's Southern Archipelago in early April, 2014. All videos are works-in-progress and the sound has been removed from each. I will add more in the coming weeks. 

Read more about my videos here.

Thanks for reading.