his series of drawings was initially inspired by a real object – an Osage orange – a citrus fruit the size of a grapefruit, but with gnarly green skin (not edible). While the earlier pieces bring to mind seedpods found in plants, the later drawings have increasingly detached themselves from the depiction of objects to become porous amoeba-like shapes. Some of them resemble microorganisms, deep-sea creatures or microscopic imagery of cells and membranes. These resemblances are not intentional, and as an artist I want to inspire my audiences to let their fantasies roam. The drawings are not preconceived; my drawing process is generally meditative and the shapes develop out of a mesh of small pen movements. I draw with pens containing permanent Indian ink. Correcting/erasing my marks is not an option, a challenge I appreciate as it keeps up a dialogue of constant response and decision-making throughout the entire drawing process, which can be several days.
As my drawings became progressively larger in size, they started to unfold into entire universes, or systems of organisms. All of these drawings are created with archival Indian ink pens on paper. They are all mural size, most of them are 60×150 inches. The largest, however, wrap around a corner and are 107 inches high and 33 feet long.
The installation Layered Perspectives is the result of a collaboration between 11 art students during a Special Topics class titled “Mapping Charlotte” (University of North Carolina, Charlotte) and myself. Each student chose their own fields of inquiry according to their personal interests. These could include city neighborhoods, time periods in history or specific community groups. Our work consisted of photo and video-mapping, interviewing and historical research. The 6 video projections run through the different topics simultaneously, gradually dissolving from one to the next. Charlotte – a pristine banking town – lacks character and has preserved little of its 2 ½-century-old history. In response to the wish for a more creative city the students installed sculptural objects, which create odd angles and disrupt the image. The visitor becomes part of the piece as s/he wanders through the installation, picks up projected images and casts shadows.
Reflections is the result of a mapping and research project of the city of Denver and its history. The installation integrates my own work with that of my course participants of “Learning Labs for Educators”, a 5-week summer course I taught for a group of art educators at PlatteForum Denver in collaboration with the University of Northern Colorado. The video installation has 5 stationary videos and one rotating video, which ensures almost endless constellations of overlapping projections.
The natural environment of the Three Gorges of the Yangzi River has been altered through human hand, as the recent completion of a giant dam has increased the water level. While this dam generates an enormous amount of energy and improves ship navigation, it has also caused significant environmental problems. My installation takes a future stance exploring the verge between real reality and virtual reality, presenting an exaggerated man-made super-nature that is entirely removed from real reality.
This immersive video installation was created in collaboration with Chris Treggiari to explore the geomorphologic, natural and human history of the San Francisco Bay and of the City of Oakland. The main room installation gives an overview of the San Francisco Bay at large, with 5 videos and sculptural elements that replicate features around the San Francisco Bay. A smaller installation in a separate space focuses on present and past of the coastal neighborhoods of Oakland. Both pieces immerse the viewer in a surround experience and attempt to inspire curiosity and thought.
In the small community of Red Deer I explored possibilities of using wild growing plants for food. I was surprised how many plants and their blossoms, fruits and roots are edible, not only wild-growing ones but also those planted in city parks for ornamental reasons, especially in fall when berries and fruits ripen. I learnt about traditional food preservation processes, such as jarring and drying. I documented all my processes on video – from fruit collection to their final food product. The result of this project was shown in the college’s gallery space on five media stations, each of them including two screens with videos, samples of preserved foods and a computer with short texts about each food item, and opportunity for audience feedback. In exchange for sharing experiences with wild growing foods, visitors were offered to take samples of the foods I had preserved.
Living off the Land is an art/research project that explores replacing cultivated food plants for plants that grow wild and can be obtained through foraging in immediate rural environments. My attraction to wild-growing edible plants stems from an ecological interest and attempts a response to discussions around the need to sustain ourselves in ways that preserve our planet’s environment and resources while providing better stewardship of our planet.
After preparing 13 different dishes from Garlic Mustard – considered an invasive green in the Hudson River Area – and documenting my processes on video, I organized a Garlic Mustard potluck dinner event, with handmade ceramic ware and sitting cushions. They bear designs of topographic lines, which attempt to link the herb to this specific environment.
Sun/Moon Symbol was created during a performance/ritual in the Northern Wyoming prairie. Using my step’s length for measurement I laid out a circle and filled out its perimeter with rooks. Its 2 main axis points in the 4 cardinal directions, the intermediates are marked in between them. The symbol resembles ancient sun symbols, as they appeared in very similar ways in indigenous cultures throughout world. In many cases the same symbol simultaneously represented the moon.
I coated the rocks with phosphorescent paint, so that they would glow for several hours after sunset and created a counterpart to the stars in a deep black Wyoming night. The absence of the moon caused the earth to “disappear” from vision, so that the symbol appeared to be hovering.
My visit to coastal Southern Spain brought up childhood imaginations of biblical stories, set in a land of eternal sun, full of ripe, exotic fruits that I could only romanticize about as a Northern European child. Medieval paintings of paradise come to mind; Adam and Eve in the foreground and terraced landscapes towering behind them, barren at times, and yet mysteriously bearing delicious crops. I tried to find words reflecting what I saw, heard, smelled and experienced. I embroidered these words onto the leaves of a fig tree. The slow, meditative act of embroidering became a performance, commemorating myths of Moorish times telling of beautiful young women who, while being kept at home, were dreaming of passion and adventure. The embroidering process was documented on video. While the leaves would fall to the ground and decay in fall, the piece remains as an installation with 50 photo prints (13”x18”) and video.
During an artist residency in Scottsdale, AZ I was fascinated to find a citrus grove full of ripe fruit. While enjoying the fruit I also questioned their suitability for an arid region – and ultimately their water consumption to grow these juicy fruits. To my surprise I found out that the ancient Hohokam tribes once home in this region also grew crops that relied on irrigation.
I created labels for the fruits – to put them into context with the greater Phoenix environment, and to inspire thought and creativity. The oranges bear spiral-shaped excerpts from Pima Indian mythology. The grapefruits bear a Hohokam labyrinth. I attached the labels to the fruits in a ceremonial act, and after their harvest distributed them amongst the Taliesin community.
I created my first Snow Drawings during an Artist Residency in the Colorado Rocky Mountains in February/March/April 2009. They started out of play during snowshoe walks and gradually evolved into an arts project over the course of my 3-month artist residency.
Snow Drawings at Ooms Pondwere created on a small frozen lake near Chatham, NY (Ooms Conservation Area). Local residents contributed their active help to the work on the lake on a weekend in January 2011. Other pieces were created on the lands of Millay Colony Artist Residency nearby.
These Snow Drawings were created at Carpenter Ranch near Hayden/Steamboat Springs in Northern Colorado. Some of the drawings were on the frozen Yampa River, others on grazing lands close to the river. The large piece in the Yampa River bed took me several days – always coming back to continue where I had left ff the previous day. I was lucky to have clear weather and no snowfall during the days I was working on this piece.
Snow Drawings at Rabbit Ears Pass was created with a group of community volunteers from Steamboat Springs and Hayden, Colorado, on two weekends in January/February 2012 – to both sides of the highway that leads across the mountain pass.
Snow Drawings at Catamount Lake was created during the 3 days between Friday February 1st and Sunday February 3rd 2013 in a joint effort with over 60 volunteers from Steamboat Springs and vicinity, who helped me walk giant spiral patterns with snowshoes . Despite deep, heavy snow that made walking difficult and strenuous we managed to create a stunning art piece on the frozen snow-covered lake. I was greatly impressed of the piece that revealed itself when I flew over the lake the next morning to take photos.
This Snow Drawings piece was created with approximately 50 volunteer performers, who collaboratively recreated – in an abstracted sense – the original flow of the Yampa River and its 4 main tributaries within Routt County, CO. The river is now dammed and the valley is filled with water. In a 4-hour effort the groups of volunteers walked across the lake on snowshoes to create a pattern of a general stream as well as paying tribute to the moods of water, as its flow may be slow or fast, rough or smooth, straight or meandering, whirling in circles and racing down rapids. The piece was photographed from an airplane the day after the event.
This project examines Nasturtium as a culinary plant. Nasturtium grows in gardens and yards, and often in city parks and abandoned lots in residential areas. I invented a recipe for Stuffed Nasturtium Leaves – similar to Greek Dolmades. I served these appetizers during an opening reception at Compound Gallery in Oakland. They were arranged on flat ceramic plates that I had made after life Nasturtium leaves. About 44 plates of different sizes were laid out on shelves, and a video showed the preparation process of the stuffed leaves. At the end of the reception all Stuffed Leaves were eaten.
WATERLAND is an artistic response to rising sea water levels as a result of climate change. Holland has been confronted with floods since its first settlements were established in the early middle ages. The installation WATERLAND explores Holland’s critical landscapes with the eyes of an artist, while at the same time examining Dutch solutions of water managements in past and present. It poses the question whether Holland’s approach, both technically and psychologically, might serve as a model for other coastal regions, including major metropolitan centers, such as the San Francisco Bay Area, which has so far not experienced flooding.
This series of night photographs was shot during an artist residency in Toffia, a medieval hilltop town in central Italy. The photographs will be printed digitally, and – accompanied by vignettes of text – they will also become part of a book (digital and/or printed). The texts reflect my outsider’s experience of Toffia and a summary of Toffia’s history.
This piece was created in February 2014 and is the first of two Snow Drawings projects in the Valley of Serre Chevalier – a skiing area in the French Alps. The piece was created over two days with the help of approximately 70 participants. The piece extends around a mountainside and was photographed from a helicopter during changing light conditions – between bright sunshine – which delivers good contrast and brings out the footsteps in the snow, and cloud cover – which lacks contrast and causes the patterns to vanish from sight.
This Snow Drawings project was created with approximately 12 volunteers over two days in the French Alps in February 2014. Planned as a 1-day project the ground perspective of the high-mountain valley proved deceiving, and the project had to be extended to a second day with additional volunteers. Situated in a “bowl” it was photographed from surrounding peaks and ridges, as well as from a ski lift.
These Snow Drawings were created during a participatory art and nature event in winter 2016. Participants included communities of Cazenovia, NY and the larger Syracuse area. In a 1-day effort (Saturday January 23rd) we filled up all of the Art Park’s open spaces with spiral shapes. The event attracted a large number of participants, who contributed their time end effort throughout the day. Images and video footage were shot with the help of professional drone photographers, who took advantage of light and shadow, as the sun moved across the piece from the morning to the late afternoon.
Similar to the earlier project We Are the Waterthis Yampa River Snow Drawings project attempts to draw the flow of the Yampa River on frozen Lake Catamount. While the first piece focused on the idea of a flowing stream in a stylized sense, this second project attempts to mimic the actual flow of the Yampa River, as it once wiggled itself through the valley in meanders – before the river was dammed to become Lake Catamount.
The piece was created with approximately 50 community participants, who zigzagged across the lake – guided by 4 lead-walkers, who defined the bending points to draw a meandering flow.
In March 2015 I conducted a Snow Drawings project at Denali National Park in collaboration with National Park staff and 60 high school students from surrounding schools. Our Snow Drawings day was exceptionally cold at minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit, and I admired the students’ dedication and endurance. Since we were not granted permission to take aerial photos I shot ground-shots during the event. The ground perspective helps emphasize the beauty of the Alaska landscape that we embedded the artwork into.
I had planned for a large-scale Snow Drawings project on the Archipelago Sea outside the city of Turku. However, due to an extraordinarily mild winter, the ice was not thick enough and we had barely any snow during my seven weeks stay at the Saari Foundation’s Artist Residency. Toward the end of my stay I was able to create a small piece on surrounding fields. With the help of 15 hardy participants we fought against gusty winds and snowdrifts. I was able to capture some of our patterns on photo before the wind blew them away.
This was my first Participatory Drawing Project. It was executed in two sessions: one in an open workshop with the general museum public at the Shelburne Museum, and the second with a group of middle school students. We agreed to a simple circular pen gesture and focused on patterns and texture rather than form and object. While this keeps the drawing cohesive, the individual hand assures liveliness and adds to the success of the drawing.
This Participatory Drawing Project was started during “Dance Anywhere”, a worldwide dance and movement event held each year during one specific day in March. The drawing was left on the wall at the Kala Art Institute in Berkeley for an extended period of time, inviting Kala’s artist community to participate. The drawing progressed slowly but steadily, and I finally finished it, picking up on the various pattern ideas that had been started by other artists.
This drawing was created in summer 2016 with the participants of ArtSeed’s children’s art program. The students were very diverse and their various ages and skill levels contributed to achieve a highly interesting and beautiful artwork. The resulting drawing was shown in an exhibition at the Thoreau Center for Sustainability in San Francisco’s Presidio Park. We were able to hang this large drawing from a beam on the ceiling, which allowed it to sway freely off the wall, lightly touching the floor. It was a great pleasure to work with this group of talented young artists.
I conducted this collaborative drawing project with a group of writers and social activists during an artist residency at the Blue Mountain Center in the Adirondacks (NY state). The drawing was created in several sessions over the course of a week in fall 2016. The drawing meetings also served as a platform for discussion about pressing topics, such as the upcoming 2016 presidential elections.
This was the first Participatory Drawing that was cut up to create smaller drawings. An empty picture frame and rulers helped us frame compelling pieces. This “framing process” was engaging and fun for the entire group.
This participatory drawing was created on the gallery floor at Abram Claghorn gallery. Compared to other pieces of this series it was a slightly smaller scale drawing that was created by 2 participants and myself. We worked on this piece for approximately 3.5 hours, and then carefully selected compositions of the piece to cut smaller drawings of various formats.
I shot this series of night shots during an artist residency in the Adirondack Mountains. I tried to capture the tranquil mood during these rural nights in a landscape dominated by water and country-style living that revolves around nature, boating and water activities. Over the course of my 4-week stay the light changed due to the moon phases and weather – from very dark starry nights to overcast and then moonlit landscapes. I illuminated human elements, such as boats and buildings with lights and flashlights.