My artistic practice investigates social issues using strategies of para-functional poiesis. I engage environments beyond the studio and class¬room through collabora¬tive projects involving a range of materials and participant-audiences (one of the roles I occupy as an artist is as a designer of creative processes that require audience participation.)
My earlier work used photographic mediums to engage with subjects and explore tensions between extractive and interactive processes. My work with fiber extends this exploration by introducing materials that are more approachable and which force my audience into a more intimate engagement with questions of function and meaning.
My artistic practice also involves exploring the theoretical issues and rationale with those participating in the process. Narrative (both personal and communal) plays a vital role in my work. Over the past two years my focus has been on using the arts as a medium for social justice and as a vehicle for building positive relationships across difficult social and cultural barriers.
My current work uses a human loom as a heterotopic tool of restoration that offers a way to hold together symbolic fragments of disrupted social syntax. The resulting textile is a plausibly functional object (it could keep you warm, for example); but it displays para-functional qualities through its reliance on poiesitical processes that cultivate critical discernment. The production process requires groups of people to work together physically and mentally.
As an artist, I see conflict as an opportunity for creation; transformation and restoration are more about recognizing and understanding the pieces of broken relationships (and how they can be woven together—and new functions discovered) than about reverting to their original form and occupying historical social roles.
The frontiers of my work are about exploring new ways of documenting process and materials (for example, video documentation of the production process and related interactions, cataloging materials and the meaning they have for audience-participants.) I am also drawing on the work of artists who write instructions for others to execute—designing processes that do not require my presence and that can be widely replicated. This aspect flows from my interest in making pragmatic contributions to critical social justice praxis.
Parafunctional: The use of a material or process for something other than its intended primary purpose.
Poiesis: Self-referential production, focused on cultivating the skill of discerning (rather than creating) meaningfulness.
Discernment: A process of differentiation through perceiving, recognizing and comprehending.
Heterotopia: A non-hegemonic condition of otherness that is both physical and mental.