My artwork is about experience, both public and private, for both myself and the viewer/participant. My own experience of making the work is sometimes at the center of the piece, such as in some of my laborious, handmade works. In those pieces, part of the premise of the piece is its very handmade-ness, the process of making, the meaning of time versus labor, and the appearance of the artist’s hand in the work. Other times I begin with my work and then offer it outward by inviting the viewer to become a participant in the labor, to devote some of their own time to the project, to include their hand in the final piece. Sometimes I step back once the piece has begun and almost obliterate my own presence so that the project can be carried along by the experiences of others. I become a catalyst between the idea and the viewer – the spark that sets the work in motion but then gets dissolved in the process.
What this actually looks like varies. It has looked like a mile-long, handknit road stripe laid on a street in Dallas, TX. It has looked like a house museum for tourists and locals to interact on the western coast of Newfoundland. It has been hand-dyed, handspun yarn knit into hats by people of all ages and backgrounds, shared among each other and with homeless women and children in the Bronx. It was over five kilometers of handknitting installed by a highway in South Korea and a handmade fun house created in a university gallery in South Dakota.
Recently, I have been experimenting with more subtle ways of working with this idea of how we record our experiences for ourselves and each other. Most of my work over the past 15 years has been increasingly outward-looking even to the point where the artwork is entirely dependent on the participation of the audience and my presence is no longer necessary or visible. Now I am curious if a similar result can be created via more inward-looking means. Can the materials themselves take on and retain the history of the hands that make the work? Can the story be told through the reliquary of material?