My need to make art started in my childhood. With an artist mother and an architect father (Belgian and French respectively), I grew up surrounded by art books and art supplies. Spending my summers in the Canadian wilderness, collecting and observing nature, nurtured and molded my imagination. After studying music and visual arts at High school level, I decided to continue my education in Fine Arts.
I attended the Ontario College of Art and Design where I studied printmaking, photography, illustration and metal-smithing. This interdisciplinary focus lead me towards mixed media art in an attempt to combine these different disciplines in one coherent body of work. Around the same time, I began collecting cabinet cards and Victorian-era photographs. These ultimately became the 'seeds' of my current imagery.
For 20 years I’ve been making assemblage pieces and three dimensional collages in found or handmade frames and boxes. I create mixed media works using paint, wood, papier-mâché, polymer clay, metal and found objects. They feature the cabinet photos, finding that these, in of themselves, evoke imagined histories and feelings of nostalgia. Their serious and stern faces provide an ironic counterpoint to the humour and levity I try to inject into the work. Alternatively, my pieces make evident a playful fascination with all forms of iconography, creating alter-pieces for everyday life, making sacred of the mundane. More recently, I’ve been working on larger pieces that combine painting and collage on wood cradle boards.
When I sit in front of a blank 'canvas', I usually only have a rudimentary idea of the composition I want to make, starting often with just a photograph and piece of Japanese paper. As I work, the pieces grow 'organically', meaning that I am driven by compulsion and feeling rather than a set plan or sketch. I find that the pattern and color of a chosen piece of paper, as well as the look or expression of the photo, will be enough to set a mood for each piece and the rest of the 'story' unfolds as I work. For this reason, I usually work only on one piece at a time, often not starting the next until the first is quite finished. Once in a while, after I've 'lived' a while with a piece I believed to be finished, it will become evident to me that something is missing and I will then modify and complete the piece. I keep a sketchbook and do much work in it, but it is more to try out potential color combinations and find new interesting images to add to my visual 'vocabulary'.
In my latest work I’ve been attempting to combine these vernaculars – the ironic and the sacred – to tell a story about the disconnect between our private and public selves. That is, who we are is often at odds with what we project to others. What do we choose to reveal, conceal or fabricate? More importantly, I explore the toll exacted by this ‘duplicity:’ specifically the feelings of sorrow, resentment, anxiety and martyrdom it engenders.
I live in Toronto and work in a garage studio where I sometimes allow my husband, three children and little black dog, Frida, to visit.