In 1966, when I was majoring in sculpture at the Rhode Island School of Design, I knew I wasn’t going to graduate and find a job earning a living as a sculptor. Being a practical person, I went down to the Industrial Design department to see if I could transfer. They discouraged me from pursuing this career so I turned to art education – a woman’s path.
I moved to New York City in 1967 and taught art to 3rd–8th graders. The following year I met Clement Greenberg, who turned out to be the father of one of my young students, when I took her home one day. He suggested I set up a figure drawing class in my loft downtown. Frank Stella, Jules Olitsky and Clem all came for a few sessions. When I invited a woman friend of mine, I saw the dynamics of middle-aged men and young women as their objects of desire. I did not approve of a married man pursuing my friend so I cancelled the classes.
A year later I became one of three founding members of a pioneer video collective, the Videofreex. Video was a brand new medium and our group grew to 10 members after we got a grant from CBS to “document the avant-garde movement of the late Sixties.” Two of the other women and I marched and videotaped the Women’s Strike for Equality march in New York City on August 26, 1970. A hundred thousand strong, this demonstration proved a vital moment in the second wave of the feminist movement in NYC. We women members of the Videofreex started addressing women’s issues and producing consciousness raising tapes. In “Curtis’ Abortion Tape,” Nancy, Carol and I shared important resources that were just then becoming legally available to women in New York.
With the consciousness revolution came a new respect for the Native American culture and spirituality. It seemed like the American Indians’ holistic view of the world and reverence for nature were a potent antidote to consumer culture, the war machine and the incessant advertising dominating mainstream society. In two successive summers, 1971 and 1972 I participated in Sun Dance, Yuwipi and Naming ceremonies with the Lakota Sioux in South Dakota.
When I finally moved to California permanently in 1973, I resumed my sculpture practice, making sculptures consisting of hoops and mylar or multi-colored ribbons that were suspended in natural or architectural settings and activated by the wind. It took me about a year to realize that all the circular forms in these sculptures were a direct link to the circles of the Sun Dance, tipi, fire pit, sweat lodge and the drum.
At the time, the neo-pagan feminist spirituality movement was developing in the San Francisco Bay Area. Several of my sculptures were included in its rituals and convocations. In 1975 my 10’ wide sculpture, “Amelia” was suspended over the stage of the First Women’s Spirituality Conference at the University of California at Santa Cruz. I continued making hoop-and-ribbon sculptures and ritual objects through the 1980s.
In 1990 I started a series of free standing “goddess figures” – semi-abstract sculptures as tall as 6 feet, evocative of strong, feminine presence. Some alluded to temple guardians, others to fearless female archetypes.
Somewhere along the line, I ran out of storage space for sculpture(!) and during a residency at the Virginia Center of Creative Arts in 1997, I started working in 2-dimensions. One of the results was a series that emerged from my pilgrimage to Neolithic goddess temples in the islands of Malta, southwest of Italy.
Since that time, I’ve continued making work that is evocative of natural patterns, harmonies and rhythms. My current work starts with photographs of abstraction, reflection and shadow. I develop my compositions by applying layers of acrylic wash, drawing, transfer and collage. The resulting artworks serve a means to discover the interconnectedness of all things.