LIFE IN LAYERS 2023/2024

The Life in Layers series represents frames of reference from my life. Components highlighted in a variety of formats and media are included below. Layers of our experience mold who we become in later years and how our journey meanders or makes abrupt change. This vulnerable work invites the viewer to discover and appreciate their own story.

STRATUM

Decoupaged box 8.5"x9"x2.25": acrylic boxes with colored sand/clays, found collectible objects, hand-drawn house plan.

As a child one of my pleasures was creating house layouts with rooms designated with different colors of clay and sand. Sitting in the small valley across the street from my house I’d design for hours with the Florida soils. These clear sand-filled boxes with collected treasures represent one of the first layers of my life safely preserved in a decoupaged box.

Veneer

Looking back, I can’t remember a time not feeling different. The middle of three and the only blonde, blue eyed one among them. I swayed in trees and played tree doctor, while others rode bikes in the neighborhood. The few friends I acquired; others found odd. Things didn’t come easily to me, but I pushed through to achieve the expected “A’s”. A good daughter who didn’t cause the kind of trouble my parents feared.

Married at eighteen out of expectation and obligation, I realized years later it might have been better if I was one of those women who never wed. Yearning for children immediately, I expected that as the “Suzy Homemaker” of our family, motherhood would come easily. However, early on, it seemed I lacked the innate bond most mothers had with their children.

Putting all my energy into the job of generous caregiving, I roleplayed the rest. Each fervently completed task was how I best expressed love. Floating above the “good mother”, the disembodied soul breathed on. Walking by a mirror, the person reflected back looked unfamiliar.

Decades later, a therapist suggested I list all the moves, school challenges, broken relationships, illnesses, and losses in my past. It was staggering to see how many there were! She speculated I had experienced these as traumas and began to self-protect. I wasn’t abused or neglected so how could they count?

Could caregiving have served as my barrier; a veneer hiding my differences?

Veneer: machine sewn 1970's dress, apron (copper sheeting, antique buttons, crocheted elements. Text as noted above.

Intertwined

I often said of my two birth children that I wondered how they could have been born from the same womb. They don’t look or sound alike, both having features from opposite sides of the family.

My son liked putting things together and figuring out how they worked and often played alone. My daughter, the first born, was more interested in the social aspects of play and enjoyed participating in group activities.

My daughter became the musician and teacher; my son, the scientist. Both are creative adults having pursued divergent side hobbies. He leaning more toward the formulation and features of special projects and she spreading herself over many varied projects at once.

Both are generous in different ways. She pours into her family through permaculture, creating foods from scratch, and homeschooling. He shares with others through experience and culinary adventures.

Their unique and colorful wefts, intertwine in the warp of this mother’s family tapestry.

Points of Pain

For decades I suffered from chronic hip and back pain that came on acutely and suddenly. This art piece represents that layer in my life that overwhelmed every facet of existence. After years of medical intervention, it was the decision to leave treatment, a failing marriage and relocating to a warmer climate that put this behind me. Looking back I can see how God got me through every day (and sometimes moment) of that time. It also left a special understanding in my heart for with those in similar physical or emotional pain.

Corset made with collaged elements, fabric, copper wire; lined with pleated hand-dyed muslin supported with an internal wire structure. 18"x13"x8"

Scope of Time

My third child, Joanna, joined our family by adoption and had significant medical and mental health issues before passing suddenly at age 17. Scope of Time represents when time stopped and the passages missed on this earth for her. Being challenged with growth issues Joanna never wore jeans that even teenagers who might have experienced 17 years would have. Her growth stopped at about age 10. Look closely to see the tags and sizes of jeans joined in this quilted death shroud lined with fabric in Joanna’s favorite color pink.

Representing not only Joanna’s scope of time, but perhaps other young peoples’ journey cut shorter than they or their parents imagined for them.

Divergence

How many steps away from together does it take before the path divides?

What if the inadequacies overshadow the capabilities? What if who we have become individually doesn’t make us work collectively? What if love diminishes until it is just a figurehead of obligation? What if sorrows aren’t divided anymore and joy is rarely multiplied? What if pretending begins to fuel the pain and sickness in the body? What if it seems unfixable and we don’t have the energy to even try? What if survival leaves no other option? Can you try to see, even if you don’t understand or agree?

Lane chest (sales model) decoupaged. Mixed-media book with found elements, collaged images/papers, beads, ribbon. 4"x9"x4"

Tides and Currents

Tides and Currents expresses the exact journey from my previous home in Big Rock, IL to Charleston, SC. The path to health and new growth is displayed as pieces fit together perfectly with a cover embellished with a weaving sampler from art school. My journey back to art started here.

Found box, wooden puzzle pieces, maps, hand-dyed and spun wool, red tacks, wood pieces with text. Cover: woolen loomed sampler