Communication is elusive, dependent on historical and cultural contexts. One generation’s verbal and visual mundane may be opaque to another generation. My work interrogates inter-generational expectations and realities through the romanticized prism of illustrated early- and mid-twentieth century manuals on home management, décor, repair, health, education and etiquette. It uses actual text from these sources for conception and provides the title for the work.
Recently, there have been two developments. I have added wallpaper, especially toile, as source material. The romanticization of domestic history is particularly marked in toile wallpaper patterns and thus integral to my work. I have also invented my own patterns, combining and layering decorative work and figuration from many unrelated sources. I have combined images from one era with another, or linked them with diagrams, to encourage information displacement and disorientation, similar to information overload in today’s easy data access. Remixing the narrative creates new associations. Each method changes and deconstructs any hierarchy of information.
My work has always focused on language. The earliest works examined body language, non-verbal but specific and communicative nonetheless, to inform the narrative. The subject of personal introspection and engagement slowly evolved into concerns about women’s reactions and accommodations to their cultural environment, thus examining the dual nature of a woman’s personality, the private and the public. Current work uses actual text as the impetus for conception and it now connects and gives substance to the pictorial imagery.
Historically, I have worked in two separate mediums: lithography and drawing. For over fifteen years I was primarily concerned with a woman’s internal life, and my imagery, in both my drawings and prints, had a singular focus and was presented in a realistic space. However, after my interests started to change, to address the dual nature of a woman, I created a different kind of space in which I could address concurrent realities. In 1990, prompted by that artistic change of direction, my picture plane fell apart. This provided me the visual means to present multiple layers of conflicting experiences. In 1993, I began combining lithographic and drawn images to create narrative sequences. This fused the repetitive statement inherent in printmaking with the ability of restatement through drawing, which changed context. My visual format remains the same as, more recently, my interests have incorporated addressing the intergenerational evolution of women’s roles as language and meaning change.