My Artwork

Me as artist, circa 2000

I have been a mixed media artist for decades, but started out as a painter. The turning point came in 1989 when I lost interest in the sterile, abstract structures that once entranced me, and chose to resurrect and memorialize myself and my childhood through old schoolwork. Since then I have rarely wavered from using my past as subject matter, and although the subject is personal the visual that results from it always strikes a universal chord in viewers.

Scroll WAY down to see a sequential slide show, most recent (2017) to oldest (1987). Updated often!

My most recent work is based on tattoos and medieval engravings illustrating sacred hearts.  They are all odes to Owen Carl Chaney, a loved one who took his life in August of 2016.

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Between 2010 and 2013, after giving up a long career as a traditional teacher of art at the college level, I “got the meaning back” by creating some of my most detailed and gorgeous drawings.  They are my “Goddess” series, also about my family of origin as well as my journey to discover and come to terms with a deeply buried secret about a brother, Michael, whom I lost in 2004.

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Between 2012 and 2016 I didn’t get a lot of artwork done because I was busy recreating myself and professional life. Through volunteer, then grant funded projects, I became a teaching artist to under-served by art audiences, such as the elderly, the homeless, and at-risk kidz. But I was able to create a few small stunners, including my award winning “Semesterland” series.

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Between 2005 and 2010, I was a tenure-seeking Associate Professor of Art at a very small liberal arts college.  As those years progressed, my artwork became more complex, in some cases chaotic, indicative of the inner turmoil about my vocation.

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These beautiful artworks were created while I taught at Morehead State University 2001-2005, and first became  acquainted with Appalachian culture. I was heavily influenced by the devotion to family and love of place I witnessed and learned from my first generation college students.

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Much of my teaching in higher education (1996-2010) involved curricular development and programming in graphic design and visual communication.  As a result, I often delved into the digital realm in my own artwork.  Here are some of my favorite examples of digital collage, 1998-2005:

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My artwork 1996-2001 was a mixture of traditional mixed media and digital collage, reflecting my teaching position as an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design. I quickly discovered that my ideas for mixed media collages translated quite well into digitally constructed ones. A big plus was the ability to base an entire work on a single photograph.

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But in 1997 and 1998 I created an amazing series of artworks based on a photo album I found in a flea market. I was able to identify the owner of it through a few notations and labels. Her name was Lucy, so I called the series Lucy’s Album, then Searching For Heroes because of all the images of strong girls and women contained in the album.

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The transition from graduate school to frantic adjunct teaching (1994-1996) was difficult, primarily because I had been a student of art since 1982! It was also hard to leave my graduate studio and take up residence in the basement of a townhouse. But the artworks I created during that time period still reflected my obsession with Catholicism, symbolism, and the Northern Renaissance.

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My Master of Fine Arts Exhibition had thirty-two artworks in it, and was held in the main gallery at the School of Art at Northern Illinois University — not the graduate gallery, because of the size and scope of my exhibition.  I also loved the way my metaphorical family portraits reflected themselves on the gallery floor.

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Examples from my BFA exhibition, entitled Blue Sky Through Three Windows (meaning sometimes it takes a while to see the light). It was held in the gallery outside the music building. Back then (1990s) gallery space for required exhibitions was competitive. I wanted a more public space in the student center but didn’t make the cut for political reasons. Still, the exhibit was stunning, and scary, because these were the first artworks that visually told the story of my childhood.

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And finally, my first accomplished artworks, from the end of the six years it took to earn an Associates Degree. It’s been an incredible journey. Not to end any time soon, I hope. I still have a lot of stories to tell!

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