My most profound hope is that the “private magic” of my studio will become part of our collective inheritance.  Archetypal, political, cultural and personal myths give us fragmented insights into the underlying patterns we move along.  Art, when it works, will reflect, confront and, when necessary, change those patterns.

Nine years ago I was in Italy, and when you are vacationing in Italy, going to Museums and churches, you are completely surrounded by Mary. It's all Madonnas, all the time.  One night I had a dream that took the form of a slide show and each slide was an attribute of Mary: a crown of stars, a mirror, a spindle, a book, lilies, a rose, many others.  A voice said  "You  should go home and do art about the bad girls of the bible.  You should portray Eve, Jezebel and Salome and give them the glory of Mary". My first thought at waking up and remembering the dream was "gosh, that seems kind of blasphemous!"

Taking in those glorious paintings and images of the Virgin during the day I was also encountering a fundamental teaching of patriarchal religious institutions-- and that teaching is that all women are either bad girls or good girls.  Further, the teaching is that good girls deserve to be loved and revered, like Mary and bad girls deserve to suffer, like Eve, to be despised, like Salome or perhaps even to be devoured by dogs, like Jezebel.  My dream seeks to compensate for this dualistic teaching by mixing up the categories of good and bad, by giving symbols of virtue and grace to some "bad girls".

I took direction from the dream and I am now deep into a series of works, called Female Personae that use clothing forms to explore the personae of “good” and “bad” women.  Some pieces in the series use evocative materials, such as old Wonder Woman comics or vintage books, to tailor garments in fashions and forms  that I find iconic.  Other pieces incorporate emblematic garments that I have altered, or perhaps defaced and embedded in paper pulp or resin.   By using, or alluding to, archetypally feminine attire taken from the 19th. and 20th. centuries I can consider the cultural personae that confine or empower or confuse women (sometimes simultaneously). These works are the dramatis personae of imagined biographies, narratives of women’s more hidden experiences.  Some pieces in “female personae” are also autobiographical, springing from personal memory or from dreams.  When successful, such pieces make an internal, layered reality of mine accessible to the viewer.


With my artists’ books and altered books I want to push the viewer/reader towered seeing the book as a sculptural object with a force of its own, an object that must be approached through a process of engagement.

In the 80's I went to Japan and took papermaking lessons from traditional paper-makers.  I bought a number of handmade accordion books while there.  Certainly I had heard of artists' books and seen a few in reproduction but I think that these traditional Japanese books, which were so beautiful, simple and accessible, first gave me the sense that the book was a form I could play with.  I made my first artists' book in 1992.

In 2004 I began to make Altered Books, an art form defined by the International Society of Altered Book Artists as “any book, old or new that has been recycled by creative means into a work of art”. I have expanded that definition to include sculptures and collages constructed from any commercially published materials. Using books as material is especially tempting because i know that most viewers will have a reaction to seeing an altered book.  When I deconstruct a book and use its parts as the basis of a piece, I am counting on the fact that this will give me the viewer’ s attention.  I am shamelessly appropriating the author’s efforts, subverting her intentions and converting both to my own storyline.

Books, as objects, have conflicting associations.  On one hand books are common, easily obtainable, and, with desktop printing, easily produced, tools.  They are typically viewed and treated as a means to an end (obtaining information or entertainment) rather than as objects in their own right  At the same time, books retain some of the talismanic aura that scarcity, expense and the elite nature of literacy itself gave them in past centuries. To see this demonstrated, simply stand in front of a group of people and willfully damage a book, any book.  The majority reaction of your audience will let you know that you have transgressed. Some of that reaction also springs from the way Western culture has been shaped and influenced by the religions of “The Book”, Judaism and Christianity.

Also, I make stuff because it’s fun.  The book I am currently writing--Joy in the Making: Artists’ Dreams and the Recovery of Delight in Art-Making--represents my exploration of the ways in which that fun is destroyed and may be recovered.