What initially got you interested in art?
My mom. When I was very little I showed some aptitude for drawing and she picked up on it pretty fast. She always had an interest in art history and guided my path toward the arts. I attended a high school in Milwaukee, WI that had a great art program… that took me to Kansas City Art Institute to study painting where I graduated with a BFA. I went straight to graduate school at UW-Madison where I received my MFA in 2000. The encouragement from my parents all along the way was everything.
Where do you find inspiration?
It seems so simple- but everywhere and nowhere at the same time. I’ve always been drawn to textures, repetition, text, and patterns. The texture of a whiskey sour, the pattern of lines on a sheet of paper, or even the repetition of sound can inspire me. My most recent series has been about covering up and exposing- it’s a cliche in juxtaposition, but one that has felt important to me.
The work is a collection of dots and shapes that cover blemishes in the surface of the canvas. I then layer resin over the shapes and/or the whole piece to actually draw attention to and create more blemishes such as air bubbles, settled dust, etc. The paintings are meant to cover and reveal all at the same time.
What do you do to stay creatively inspired?
I stay hopeful. I have 2 full time jobs, one as a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway Evanston, the other as the Program Director at the Wilmette Theatre- I also have a 15-year old daughter, and a 12-year old son. I’m always busy, and always on the go- but staying hopeful and positive helps me find time to get in my small studio and make work.
What does your art aim to say to your audience?
I used to think that whatever I made had to be meaningful and purposeful. It all became quite precious, which in turn made me feel like I needed to take a back seat to making. I couldn’t “see” what I wanted to make, couldn’t find meaning, so therefore I just stopped. After going through a divorce, I knew I needed to return to art making in whatever capacity I could. I stopped caring about what an audience would want to get out of the work and was just making for me. I did not have any intention of ever showing it beyond the walls of my home, but I would post on instagram. A “like” was nice, but I wasn’t posting for the audience, I was posting to prove to myself that I was doing it, making work and not being precious and afraid. I want the audience to take from it what they will. If they find meaning, or just like it because of how it looks- then that’s great.
What advice do you have for young creatives or those just starting out in their career?
Be open. Don’t be afraid to do what you want, but also don’t be afraid to make changes in your expectations along the way. Right after graduate school I was hired to be an Assistant Director of Undergrad Admissions at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC)- that started a career in higher arts education that I stayed in for 17 years. When I was a young art student, I thought I would be just in a studio making work and I would show and sell.. I certainly didn’t think I’d end up behind a desk (even if at an art school). I worked my way up to be the Associate Dean of Budget and Administration at SAIC- again- had no clue I’d be working on budgets and managing a large staff. Being flexible allowed me to shift my vision of what a career in the arts would be. I was able to provide for my family and (most days) feel accomplished. I left higher ed in 2017 because it didn’t give me what I wanted anymore… I hit my limit for sitting in an office and I adapted to a whole new career and life.
The world needs artists and creatives, but it can be a tough road- there is no straight line or path that will lead you to where you want to go, so you have to be flexible, yet determined. Being an artist, in any capacity, also involves being an entrepreneur and you’re going to need to have some business savvy. The art world is fickle and always evolving- find where you belong and work really hard.
Where do you have artwork displayed?
At Exhibit in Wilmette. 1148 Wilmette Ave, Wilmette.
What is your favorite spot in Evanston?
Lovelace Park- I have fond memories of playing with my kids at the park, sledding in winter, feeding the ducks in spring. I’m a romantic- any memories that involve my kids will always be my favorite. Although, the coffee at Backlot on Central might be a close second!
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