I am a creative dabbler in fibre and fine arts. As a textile enthusiast, I have experimented in various fibre crafts over the past decade, including spinning, knitting, felting, sewing, quilting, and weaving. Getting my hands into something concrete has been a key way for me to balance the heady world of academia, which was my life for many years. Recently, I have also returned to my creative roots in the fine arts, exploring the relationship between the natural and human world, as well as the complexities of embodiment, through acrylic and mixed media.
In my fibre and fine arts, I unite self-expression with social and environmental advocacy, focusing on beauty (art for its own sake) and purpose (art for the sake of a cause). In my creative process, I often find myself asking: What can art do in the world? Does it have ethical as well as aesthetic capacity? How can artists stimulate awareness, deeper thought, and positive action without losing creative integrity or sliding into sloganism?
I have long been interested in this relationship between ethics and aesthetics. Trained and employed as an English professor, I specialized in autobiography studies and taught ethics and social justice courses alongside literature and writing. A few years ago, I had to step down from my academic post due to a debilitating chronic illness. Since then, I have used my limited energy to continue exploring the relationship between ethics and aesthetics, but in a concrete way – at an easel and sewing machine – rather than in a philosophical or literary one.
In my visual art, I explore the intricacies of the human experience—what it means to be a self, what it feels like to be embodied, and how we perceive the external world—by means of abstraction. I am drawn to abstraction because it has the capacity to draw us in to the ineffable, enigmatic, and affective qualities of being human. Abstract art tends to express reality as we experience it rather than as a realistic or mimetic rendering of what we see. It is particularly powerful for visually conveying what we cannot see, but feel, intuit, imagine, conceptualize, or encounter. As I explore the unseen aspects of human experience, I rely on symbolic, abstract, or spontaneous expression through line, shape, colour, and texture, using mixed media and layering to achieve my effects.
I am also drawn to abstraction because it invites us to see reality differently, to de-familiarize the familiar, or to surprise us with a new perspective. When we narrow in and look very closely at something in the natural or human world, it often ceases to look like itself. Instead, it resembles an abstract set of lines, shapes, colours, and textures. This also happens when we pull back and look at something familiar from a great distance. I am intrigued by these alternative perspectives and I particularly explore them in my nature paintings, where I closely observe very real elements in the external world and render them in unexpected and often abstract ways.
Alongside conveying the unexpected, many of my paintings and mixed media pieces contrast the beauty and fragility of the natural world with its austerity or harshness, often juxtaposing detailed elements with simplified lines and geometric shapes. While not overtly touting environmental care and sustainability, much of this work draws on the beauty of the natural world (to be protected) or its severity (to be respected).
In my fibre art, my interest in environmental sustainability and ethical practice takes the foreground. After researching the excessive environmental waste produced by fast fashion as well as unethical growing, sourcing, and garment-making practices, I changed the way I approached fibre and fabric. I made the conscious decision to begin sewing and knitting sustainable fashion, to choose ethically-sourced fibres and fabrics, to reduce plastic waste with reusable hand-made items, and to make many of my own household wares and décor. I aim to combine appealing aesthetic designs with functionality and sustainability in whichever craft I am currently dabbling!