I read that your poems are supposed to be more questions than answers, but I wondered if there’s a certain message that you’d like to get across, or if you’re absolutely open to whatever interpretation the viewers have of your work?
That’s a good question. I think I’m generally open, I like to leave a little bit of space. I’m drawing on very personal experiences but I think that there is something to be said for us, finding commonality inside of the work. Maybe it resonates with you but in a slightly different way and that’s great. In general, I’m looking for conversations around gender, specifically femininity, and I’m looking to utilize my work to find and create space for those ideas in institutions where we know historically, those ideas explicitly stated have been pushed to the side. With these interesting objects, I want to have tough conversations when I’m given a platform to have a show, or to speak to somebody about my work. I want to make that conversation the forefront and ask: why are there so few women in permanent collections, and why are we still under-priced compared to men? And then, it even gets into gender questions like: what about gender non binary artists or artists who lean fem and present masculine right now? There’s so much catching up we need to be doing already. So, if I’m going to have space, I want to take up that space loudly because I think it’s worthy of attention.
It’s worthy of questioning why we’re told that women’s work or craft or fiber is of lesser value in this arty contrived space that we’ve just made up anyway. Why do we have to think it’s lesser? We don’t.
Now, could you please grant us some insight into your creative process, from an idea to a piece?
Absolutely! So, it can look different ways but a lot of times, for me, it’s a linear process. I typically have a text or a block of text that I know I want to make into a piece, and then it’s about the creation of the piece. The words are always going to reference typically the body and the experiences of the body. As they read through it, I want to make people, aware. Creating a bit of sense of discomfort is a bit important to me, and I also like to try and thin down the number of words that I’m having. So, there’s a big writing process involved for me.
Then, once I’m set, I might even change it while I’m working on it, but mostly I’ll be set on the text that I’m going to work with and then I dye fabric. I decide on how big I’m going to be making it, so, it’s pretty mathematically involved. I’m figuring out yardage, then doubling it, (because I have to do the double sides of the work) and after, I also have to do the count for the volumes and I need to know if I have enough filler, polyfill fiber, to stuff the pieces. So, I’ll dye it and then I’ll wash it, so that the fixed dye will stay and the rest will go, then dry it, iron it, cut out my text.
Before, every letter had to be the very same exact height, I was that obsessive about it. But now it’s more of a canvas: I’m laying the fabric out on my floor and I’ll be like: okay, we can paint the words this way and then I cut them out. After that, I might piece them again back together a little bit. After cutting them out, I sew the two sides together and then I inward them, I stuff them. Then, again, I lay everything back on the ground or on the table (if I’m lucky to have enough space) and I piece together how I think the words should fit next to each other and then it flows. From there I sew those words together and they become a sort of netted thing.
The New York State Council on the Arts just awarded you a $10,000 grant for your upcoming project/show in the Roberson Museum this summer. Would you like to tell me a bit more about that?
Oh, I’d love to! It’s very exciting… It’s one of those moments where you’re in awe of what’s happening because you’ve been told that you have monetary support, unrestricted, for the creation of new work, basically like: keep making work, and here’s money to do that. So, I’m so grateful, and It’s such a dream come true! What I wrote the proposal for and what I’m going to use it for is my upcoming museum show. It’s my first museum show, which is amazing in itself, but I needed support (funding, basically) to make larger pieces to fill up the space. It will also include the last six, seven years of work that I’ve made that makes sense to be in the show collectively, as well as a really large new piece that we are currently in the planning and material sourcing phase for, which is amazing and wouldn’t really be possible without this grant. So, I’m very excited!
It’s going to be a huge career moment for me to have the ability to make something at this scale and to show it for that period of time. It’s up for a year which, again, is amazing. I’m very excited, more so pretty overwhelmed, and I want to take this very privileged opportunity and make sure that it’s not just about me. So, making programming that benefits others in the arts community in this area and that educates around gender, sexuality and different ideas that don’t always get to be at the forefront.