Marble, 10″ x 8″ x 6″, 2002. Private collection Sculptures have to relate to the substance out of which which they are created. Any sculpture that comes from stone is going to have to relate to the density and compaction of stone, hence the idea of compression. Compression also expresses a mood, a sense of interior space in the mind, body, and spirit.
Black walnut on Maple base, 12 inches tall, 1986. private collection. Black walnut has the perfect density to carve because it has a lot of structural integrity and it takes a beautiful polish. I enjoyed playing with varying textures in this piece and with trying to capture the feeling of collection in the horse
Don Quixote's Horse
oak, 10″ tall, 1972. private collection I must’ve carved this little horse while studying with Gordon Newell at the Sculpture Center. When I showed the sculpture to my great aunt Edith Trusdell, she exclaimed “what’s Gordon teaching you? Don’t you realize that the head is on backwards?” Rather than explain to her that sculptures have to live within the limits of their medium, I said that the horse’s head was turned backwards in order to keep an eye on Don Quixote who had fallen on the ground.
Caning and sisal, 41 inches tall, 1990. Private collection. Learning how to make baskets out of foraged material such as willow and cattail got me interested in making sculptures out of weaving material. I was intrigued by the light and porous nature of wicker and sisal, as well as the transparency of the process; you can see the “bones” of the horse. It was also a challenge to figure out how to get the sculpture to balance. (The secret is in the tail.)
Pegasus and the Goddess
Seagrass and caning, 46 inches long, 1989. Private collection. I was told the story of Pegasus many times when I was a child, but never with a naked goddess riding on Pegasus’s back, which seems befitting to such a magical horse, so I had to make the image myself. i made this piece so it can hang suspended.
Mask with Grazing Horse
Honduras mahogany, 29 inches tall by 15 inches wide, 2000. Private collection. In 1999, Henry and I took a trip to Benin in West Africa. That trip shook up my notion of art in the best way possible, and when we came back home our artwork exploded into new directions. Africa helped me break some rules I didn’t even know I was abiding by, such as the idea of a horse grazing on grass growing out of a human head
Mountain mahogany and fieldstone, 36 inches tall, circa 1977. Private collection. While I lived in Oregon, I started to make pilgrimages to visit Gordon Newell in Darwin where he had relocated after the Sculpture Center was torn down. I would drive my VW camper over the Sierras to camp outside of Gordon and Eleanor’s simple wood house at the edge of Darwin with a spectacular view of the Argus Range and the Coso Mountains. I learned to love the desert, its clarity, light, simplicity, silence. I would also raid Gordon’s wood pile for pieces of wood to carve such as this piece of mountain mahogany. This one had grown in an intriguing twist with natural concavities which I attempted to accentuate. The heartwood is a deep reddish brown and sapwood is yellow/tawny; although brittle, the wood is so dense that it takes an incredible satiny polish.
Piñon wood, 36 inches tall, 1984. Private collection. Piñon wood is incredibly fragrant and soft to carve, but it’s also pretty gnarly and knotty. Although by the time I carved this piece I had met and married Henry, I still recalled the anguish and yearning I felt when I was living alone in Darwin. I have always been more interested in carving figures not as anatomically correct portraits, but as “felt-from-within” portraits. This approach allows for distortions, exaggerations, and the poetic license to convey emotions, as well as the necessity to fit the figure within the confines of the original material.
Strutting My Stuff
carved in koa wood on ash base, 22″ by 12″ by 5″. 1997. private collection. This is a composite portrait of the women in prison I came to know through the Prison Integrated Health Program, a holistic health program for prisoners and staff that I founded at FCI Dublin, the West Coast federal prison for women. The women were feisty, defiant, strong, and surprisingly knowledgeable about the world. I also made an appliquéd quilt on the same theme, also titled “Strutting my Stuff.”
carved in honduras mahogany 16″ by 30″ by 2″ on oak base private collection
A Song of Home
carved in koa wood, 33″ by 9″ by 5″ on purpleheart based This piece was strongly influenced by a trip to Benin in West Africa in 1999 private collection
English walnut, 29″ by 14″ by 1″, 1995. Private collection. Sometimes it’s important to push the limits of the material, as I with the fingers and toes in this double bas relief. You risk the sculpture breaking, but if you’re successful, there is a delicacy and dance-like quality that comes through.