After some traumatic events in my early childhood, depression and anxiety became my shadow companions. I was privileged to partake of psychotherapy for many years, which was very helpful but insufficient to make living with the diseases tolerable. I resisted chemical treatment for a long, long time. During a particularly stressful period, I began experiencing panic attacks and succumbed to the lure of the medicated solution. I’ve been on a few over the years, and they work for the most part, but they have their cost. And there are still some days when depression, especially, escapes from the shadowy confines and grips me with its bruising tendrils. It wears me down and keeps me from doing what I love – creating.
Pain Containment Pod #4: Depression/Anxiety
7” h x 23” w x 17” d Materials: fiber rush, prescription bottles, nylon cord, dye, bleach Techniques: twining, melting, boiling, dyeing, bleaching, hammering, filing, slashing
Pain Containment Pod No. 3: Right Shoulder
Any physical therapist will tell you shoulder pain is the worst to deal with. The skeletal-muscular structures are so complex, and the joint so necessary for everyday life, let alone the creative life. I hadn’t let my repeated bouts of shoulder impingement stop me from working, though I probably should have. It turns out there was a tear as well as a bone spur and arthritis, requiring surgery. I’m afraid the pain has yet to be contained.
Pain Containment Pod No. 3 : Right Shoulder
Materials: flat reed, birch bark, empty pill bottles, Thera-Bands, knitting needles, ice pack, paint 18 h x 16 w x 18 d Techniques: hexagonal weave, random weave, interweaving, painting
Pain Containment Pod # 2: Left Foot
After a particularly painful flare-up of plantar fasciitis, a condition I am prone to due to congenital tarsal coalition, I created Pod #2. I made a plaster cast as a model and used materials salvaged from my treatments. The pain in my left heel has been mostly contained since finishing this piece.
Pain Containment Pod #2: Left Foot
Materials: fiber splint, fiber rush, kinesiology tape, medical tape, hemp cord, artificial sinew, wire, fiber-reactive dye, acrylic paint, plastic arch support from orthotic, Icy Hot applicator, naproxen sodium, turmeric capsules, acetaminophen, acupuncture needles. Techniques: Twining, twill plaiting, wrapped twining, knotted netting. 11" h x 12" w x 15" d
Pain Containment Pod #1: Right Knee
Pain is one of the “invisible” disabilities. I’ve been living with persistent pain from an assortment of causes for most of my life. I am not alone. Most of us experience pain intermittently, some of us bear with it regularly and others survive it incessantly. We all witness it if we open our eyes. Whatever its source, whether physical, psychological, or metaphysical, pain is dangerous, debilitating, draining, depressing. Wouldn’t life be so much better if we could only grab onto pain, remove it from the place it is causing suffering and contain it safely away? That’s what the Pain Containment Pod series does for me. Pod #1 is a response to an injury-related exacerbation of arthritis in my right knee. I was so angered by a doctor’s statement that “It was only pain.” I made a plaster cast of my knee as a reference for creating the form. Along with traditional basketry materials, I have woven this piece with items I used to alleviate the pain. Coincidentally (or not?), I experienced a reduction in knee pain after completing this sculpture.
Pain Containment Pod #1: Right Knee, back
Materials: hand-dyed reed and bamboo skewers, elastic resistance bands, acrylic paint, hemp cord, glucosamine chondroitin, naproxen sodium, pill bottles, ginger tea wrappers, turmeric capsules, elastic bandage, hypodermic syringe. Techniques: Star base, three-rod wale, twined arrow, random weave, rolled border 16" h x 12" w x 11" d
Despair bursts forth, uncontained. I feel caught, netted, in the tangles of my emotions. 380,000 dead (and counting) in the U.S. A. from the covid-19 pandemic, racial injustice and violence, climate change, white supremacy, voter suppression, so many lies, unemployment, recession, and wildfires – how can anyone be expected to contain their despair over these situations? Yet we ought to look closely to see them for what they are. Repetitive tasks such as crochet, netting and twining are soothing, meditative, they keep my fingers occupied and my eyes away from the news. I feel better now.
Sandy’s stability threatened to unravel during her husband’s final months of melanoma and cancer treatment-induced type 1 diabetes. Used to the protection and pampering by her loving husband for over 60 years, she focused on compulsive tidiness, elegance and family. Some of her compulsions included large collections of designer handbags, shoes, and shoelaces, all meticulously stored. When her husband’s diseases overcame his strength, with constant support from her three children, she struggled and rose to the challenge, keeping stitched together. Materials: Sandy’s collection of used and new shoelaces, telephone wire, thread Techniques: houndstooth weave, random weave, sewing, knotting 9” h x 11” w x 7” d
I began this work in response to the Pussyhat movement and refined it in response to the #MeToo movement. The cathead basket is an elegant vessel containing the shock, fear and anger I experienced during and after the 2016 election. I was gratified by the outpouring of solidarity among women, which continued with the #MeToo movement. Yet I felt unconscious pressure to join this movement. Not all women are ready to share their experiences of violation with the worldwide audience. For some the abuse is too fresh, too painful to reveal. Women need not sacrifice their privacy and mental health to further an important movement. And that’s all I’m going to say.
Pussyhat Basket, back
Materials: painted watercolor paper, silk, ribbon, paintpaper Techniques: twill plaiting, cathead shape, rolled rim, stitching, painting 10" w x 12" d x 9" h
We are a little blue since our children moved out. We were fortunate to spend much more time with them at this stage of their lives than we would have normally, because of the pandemic. There is a ray of sunshine piercing the sadness, though, as we all move onto new adventures. Materials: old checks, old address labels, membership cards & IDs, gouache, glue Techniques: rolling, folding, random weave, painting, gluing 4.5" h x 9" w x 9" d
Joys and Sorrows
So many of my memories are entwined with the nature sanctuary Habitat in Belmont, MA. My fiancé and I fell in love with this place and chose to wed there under the cherry tree in the formal garden. It was May and its pink blossoms were at their height. I like to remember it as a perfect day, but like all memories, it has unraveled a little, like the strips of fabric from my gown. I don’t mind this, I am happy with the fluidity of memories. Let them sway and tangle and untangle. The beauty of Habitat and the happy memories I started there have lured me to visit regularly. The tranquility I have found there has also provided comfort for many sorrows, large and small, that inevitably come with living. Hovering near the trunk are the dangling ghosts of those who are no longer present in my physical life. Yet each flower is a joy. Materials: reed, twigs, roots, prunings, ribbon, yarn, strips from my wedding dress, paint 22" w x 20" d x 18" h
Sanctuary invites you to imagine yourself in a special place hidden in the forest where you can retreat from daily cares, immerse yourself in natural beauty, and replenish your soul. Received the 6 Bridges Gallery Award in January 2021.
Ship of Dreams
Take a journey into the realms of the imagination on this ethereal vessel. Will you sail to the spirit world? Perhaps it will take you to your favorite haven. Materials: sticks, handmade paper and paper pulp, yarn, cotton cord, glue. Techniques: papermaking, knotted construction, netting, looping, gluing. 19" h x 15" w x 19" d
Sanctuary No. 2 - Music Chamber
Imagine yourself at rest in the gently swinging hammock inside Sanctuary No. 2 – Music Chamber. You can hear the chimes clink softly in the breeze. The sprang roof is open to the sky, allowing the sight of blue skies, the music of singing birds, and the scent of the surrounding forest to nourish your spirit. You feel at one with the earth in your sanctuary made of the gifts of nature. The walls and floor of Sanctuary No. 2: Music Chamber are made from music notes that I had made for a collaborative installation with fellow artist Laurie Bogdan for the New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill. The installation featured a music staff with the notation for Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind constructed of natural materials we had foraged for.
Sanctuary No. 2 - Music Chamber -Interior
Materials: repurposed music notes from Music Chamber, Oriental bittersweet, daylily cord, artificial sinew, waxed linen, birch bark, thread. Techniques: coiling, sprang weaving, pin-loom weaving, stitching, knotting. 13.5” h x 11.5” w x 7.5” d
Spirit House - Air
This Spirit House can be many things: a resting spot for the spirit, with the familiar elements providing orientation and sustenance; a tool for meditation; a reminder to see spirit in nature; an invitation for the spirit world to inhabit the material world; a point of departure for a journey into the world of spirit through the elemental portal that speaks to you in this moment Materials: sticks, handmade paper, daylily cord, leaves, string, artificial sinew, bamboo, tapioca starch Techniques: papermaking, knotted construction, looping, sewing, gluing 12.5" h x 12" w x 11" d
A Walk by the River
Created as part of a group work called “Out for a Walk” with four other artists for an exhibit of touchable art, “A Walk by the River” expresses my delight in the natural world using basketry techniques and materials. My goal was to produce a work in vivid colors and textures that illustrates the serenity as well as the vitality and movement of trees and water. I hope you want to touch this work. It’s okay, go ahead and touch it!
A Walk by the River, detail
Hand-dyed flat oval, round, and oval oval reed, waxed thread, 2018, 52"h x 35" w x 8"d
Celia was my grandmother-in-law. She was born in 1903 in Luninets, Belarus, married Milton in 1924, & had two daughters. She kept a pristine home, using her tablecloths for family celebrations. After she died at age 100, I was given her tablecloths, which I used until they began to wear out. I couldn’t part with them, until I came up with the idea of using one to create a portrait to honor Celia. Materials: Celia's tablecloth, various cords, wool batting, fiberfill, wire, thread, buttons, foam core Techniques: coiling, stitching, unraveling, embroidery 17” h x 13.25” w x 2.5” d
Sea Urchin Basket
What can you make with 100 pieces of the same object? A basket, of course. Materials: 100 alligator clip insulation covers, cotton braiding cord Techniques: stitching 2” h x 5” w x 5” d
Motility front view
Weird things surface in my imagination, floating up from memories of images seen in books long ago, or from another universe I visited in my dreams. Motility is an imaginary marine lifeform that inhabits a warm ocean. It swims leisurely, luring its prey with its colorful tendrils, hoping they will reach its cherry orifice.
Materials: fiber rush, unryu paper, acrylic paint and medium, vinyl tubing, produce netting, glue