So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My great-grandmother cutout her face from a snapshot and attached it to the body of a topless woman advertising control top pantyhose for plus-size women. She placed this provocative collage at eye level on her refrigerator in an effort to manage her desires. I remember making things with my great-grandmother from the many materials that she creatively repurposed. Over one summer break, we constructed an extra special pillow for her cat Ting-a-ling stuffed with cat hair saved from regular brushing sessions. During another visit, we cut apart her wedding dress to make a new wardrobe for the doll from her childhood. As a result of these primary experiences, I have been cutting apart my photographs since the 1980’s to test the flexibility of images in an effort to understand the power of photographic representation.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
My family was highly mobile; we never lived anywhere for very long. This lifestyle has always been difficult to explain. So many things were confusing from move-to-move and from state-to-state. Chicago is the longest I have lived anywhere, a place where I continue to learn how to connect with others and maintain meaningful relationships. Over the years, I have met many artists with numerous relocations in their personal histories. The process of acclimating to new environments may have provided some kind of unintentional training to look closely, to discover creative ways to process personal observations and experiences. If it is easy to make things then the struggle can be finding value and an appropriate context for what is produced.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Artist and Assistant Professor – what should we know?
I am an artist and a professor. I have always felt compelled to know why people make things. While working in my studio I remind myself of the advice that I share with my students in order to feel more emboldened to keep taking chances. Every day I think about what a photograph is and delight in the surprises and slipperiness of an ever-changing medium. Through many years of experimentation, my collages have grown from flat wall-based works into cutup photos in relief. My images printed on photographic paper are now the primary material I use to build sculptural forms and site-specific installations.
Who else deserves credit – have you had mentors, supporters, cheerleaders, advocates, clients or teammates that have played a big role in your success or the success of the business? If so – who are they and what role did they plan / how did they help.
My parents encouraged me to find a boarding school after I transferred to three different schools for ninth grade. I very happily spent my last two years of high school living at a boarding high school for the arts on a lake in the middle of nowhere. We spent our mornings in academic classes and afternoons until lights-out working in our chosen area of concentration. So many decades later this is still my favorite way to divide the day. I landed in Chicago as a sophomore to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) where I have now been teaching for twenty years. Generations of amazing talent have passed through SAIC. I am grateful to be surrounded by amazing alumni, students, staff, and fellow faculty that contribute to a dynamic and inspiring interdisciplinary environment. Who deserves credit – everyone who has helped along the way – too many to name and no way to have done this alone – thank you!
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