My work is rooted in personal, family, cultural and global survival. Making art has been a personal healing process as well as expression of beauty and hope. I came from a dysfunctional family, some survived through the Holocaust; most didn’t. It is a miracle that we survive serious trauma with human compassion and love intact. The goal of my performances and sculptures is to convey the transformations of a healing journey, through survivors’ scars and resilience. At the same time, I developed unique functional work exploring language and textures of clay and firing techniques.
Teaching has also been an important part of my process and work, not just as financial support, but as a way of connecting with and inspiring younger generations to believe in themselves, understand the power of art as a healing force, as a way to a personal aesthetic and identity, and to understand the profound nature and value of poetic expression. I taught children at risk for over 30 years based on the belief that giving voice through art and beauty are expressions of an innate desire to heal. Inspired by Vaclav Havel’s use of artists at the political table, I founded and still teach EcoArt Matters, a course that combines art and science, where students create art that brings attention and sometimes reclamation to urgent environmental and social justice issues resulting from climate change. At a time when the human species and life on earth are in danger, we need artists who are practiced in thinking sideways and outside the box, to help create hope and solutions for a healthy survival.
FEMINISM AND ME
Having run away from home at 15, I learned early on that to forge a path for myself, I had to learn to behave like a man. That was my form of feminism. Throughout my career, I was subjected to the usual harassments, insults, omissions and sexual overtures of a male dominated society and therefore identified with the Feminist movement. When teaching for the American Army in France, I was obliged to wear an official army uniform for “my own protection”, whereas the male instructors were not. At a job interview at UC Berkeley after completing my studies, the gentleman interviewer suggested that in order for an attractive young lady like me to get a job in the art world, is to find where they are offering jobs and sleep with the men in charge! Moving to Berkeley opened the door to the moral and physical support of other working women artists and friends. From Nancy Selvin’s breakfastgroup, to the Womens Caucus for the Arts, and finally as a board member of WEAD, Womens Environmental Artists Directory, I have enjoyed and benefited from the fruits of the feminist movement , women working together to create more equitable opportunities and a more just society. When one of the founders of WEAD, Jo Hanson, was asked when men would be invited to join, she would say they would be welcome once women were accepted as equals in the art world, paid equally in the teaching world, and afforded all the same benefits as men in our society. According to a recent poll on the participation of women artists in museums and galleries, we still have a long way to go. May this archive and legacy help to elevate the role and recognition of women and their valuable works in the world.