Imagining possible future forms of community, this body of work draws on feminist legacies, ecological and biological study, and speculative fiction to propose models of community that move beyond current human-centered and capitalist systems. Drawing, sound, and multimedia installation are used here to investigate sites and structures of the non-human world - from geological strata to female-led insect colonies - to raise questions about how we engage caregiving, conflict, and cooperation in a changing world.
Strata, 2016 ink and gouache on cut paper, 22" x 30"
Entry Point I (Seeding), 2013 ink, acrylic, and gouache on cut paper, 26" x 40"
Oxygenated, 2015 ink, gouache, and cut paper, 12" x 8" and 24" x 14"
Personal Cartography, 2016 ink, acrylic, and gouache on paper with petri dishes, modeling clay, plexiglass, 40" x 32" x 15"
Our New System, 2014 ink and acrylic on cut paper, 23" x 32"
Emergency Blanket, 2016 ink, acrylic, cut paper, 31" x 28"
Entry Point II (Multi-Level), 2014 pigmented ink, acrylic, and gouache on cut paper, three drawings, left to right: 30" x 14.5", 15" x 9," and 32" x 24"
Despair and Empowerment Workshop (part 1 of 3), 2016 pigmented ink on paper, 21" x 24"
Cellular Healing Session, 2013 pigmented ink, acrylic, and gouache on paper, 30" x 22"
You Can't Get There from Here, 2016 ink and acrylic on cut paper, 40" x 28"
Two Interiors, 2014 ink, latex paint, paper, table, wall: 120" x 180," table: 72" x 36" 28"
I Feel You, 2014 xerox interior with risograph cover and sticker insert, 8.5" x 11" closed
Our Geophysical Year, 2016 acrylic and gouache on cut paper, 22" x 16"
Extraction and Storage Vehicle, 2013 ink and gouache on cut paper, 11" x 16"
Home/Body, 2013 ink, acrylic, and gouache on cut paper, 26" x 19"
Center for Pragmatic Optimism
An architectural space is cast on the wall from a cutout, shadow puppet of a structure. Slides of of constructions dedicated to creative collectives and utopian plans that engage care work are projected into a window of the shadow building. A table stacked with research materials referencing science fiction, adventure playgrounds, activist projects, and the female-run social structures of wasps, ants, and bees suggest sources that might direct us toward alternate ways to imagine communities of the future.
Overhead, you’ll hear me reading from artist Palle Nielsen’s 1968 “Model for a Qualitative Society,” a treatise that accompanied his gigantic adventure playground installation at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, in which children were invited to climb, jump, build, decorate and destroy the space without adult intervention. Nielsen’s text serves here as a bridge between the imaginative spaces explored through my material practice and my lived experiences and activism as an artist-mother.
These Future Foremothers depict women proposed as founding ancestors for a future society. These mythological figures are based on influential artists, writers, friends, environmental activists, and the artist’s young daughter. Their collective labor draws together smaller works on paper between them that explore relationships between care and conflict, natural and human-made environments.
Future Foremothers: Frida, 2016 ink and acrylic on paper, 89" x 51"
Future Foremothers: Octavia, 2016 ink and acrylic on paper, 90" x 51"
Future Foremothers: Selina, 2016 ink and acrylic on paper, 90" x 51"
CoAdaptation Field Station
The CoAdaptation Field Station is a hybrid wall drawing and research site that sits between lived realities and imagined futures. Visitors are encouraged to explore a range of intersecting materials that link collective activism, adventure play, interspecies care, and speculative fiction as tools to build resilience and community in a rapidly changing world.
CoAdaptation Field Station (installation view), 2018
multimedia installation with projected video, reading list, and prepared microscope slides.
digital animation and found footage projected onto the wall of “CoAdaptation Field Station”
The art world doesn’t know what to do with mothers, or anyone actively engaged in parenting. Many artists find themselves isolated from the art community once they have children, a condition that continues to have a profound impact on the artistic, curatorial, and critical perspectives included in the discourse of contemporary art.
Cultural ReProducers is an ongoing creative platform initiated in 2012 in collaboration with an evolving group of artists, critics, and curators raising young children. As a community, Cultural ReProducers explore the intersection of artmaking and family life through a diverse range of projects that include an online resource, a childcare-supported art event series and generative workshops, a multimedia exhibition, and a risographed zine of experiments in artist-parenthood. These activities propose new models for institutional support while building networks of exchange, visibility, and dialogue to realize our collective needs and desires.
Merging the formats of an audio tour and a guided visualization session, this multisensory installation opens a conversation with the living architecture of own bodies. Participants are invited to experience sensory travel untethered from medical imagery. Upon entering the space you will be seated comfortably and led through a relaxing process in which a small mint serves as an entry point, following its passage into the mouth, down the throat, and into a reimagined anatomy.
Tours are limited to four people at a time, available twice a day by appointment. Upon completing the tour, you will be invited to a private gallery open only to participants, where you can view others' responses and contribute to our archive.
The Redistribution of Curiosity
By its nature, the archive is carefully and systematically organized, bringing a sense of structure and order to the chaos of the natural world. As vast amounts of specialized data are collected and stored there, this collected knowledge also attains a growing measure of unknowableness: any serious researcher can become familiar only with a small fraction of its contents, and for non-specialists outside the Institute there is very little access to its contents at all. This situation opens up new opportunities for curiosity and wonder within the ordered systems of the collection.
The ReDistribution of Curiosity began through a series of conversations with scholars at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science working in diverse areas of research, from medieval medicines to early computer graphics. The act of drawing has the capacity to abstract and ambiguate any sense of time, space, scale and origin these images might initially have, allowing for creative recategorization, unexpected visual connections and the emergence of new narratives. Working with the Institute's library and digitized rare book collection, I created a personal archive of notes and images using inks, pigments, cut paper, and shadows.
In ordering the resulting images by my own systems of categorization, as did collectors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, I seek to to share these reconfigured collections with others. This is where the ReDistribution of Curiosity comes in: a selection of the completed drawings have been multiplied as postcards to be disseminated both within and beyond the institution, activating our collective curiosity through the participation of the MPI community. The project was also expanded through a Collective Curiosity workshop and public exhibition at Berlin's Aviatrix Atelier, an intergenerational studio space and gallery organized by and for creative parents and their families, as well as the local community.
Conversations About the Future
The relationships between humankind and the planet we occupy are complex, beautiful, and often troubling. ‘Conversations About the Future’ considers the impact of past and present generations on the world inherited by the next. Beginning and end points to this narrative are indeterminate. Jawbones, mountain ranges, and insect nests look to be eerily similar playthings. The strategies of other organisms offer models to consider if our own systems fail. This dialogue can change as pieces are rearranged.
Because our eyes can adjust their depth of focus and exposure to see both the blue of the sky and the white of the paper in the window together, the conversation extends to include the geology, biology, and human activity beyond the glass, outside and in. Like it or not, you are part of this story too.
Ihoojin No Me Kara
In 1859 the port of Yokohama was the first site in Japan to open its ports to foreign ships. The trade that followed exposed both Japan and the United States to new materials, technologies, and cultural influences, creating hybrid forms. 150 years later I traveled to the region for a residency at BankArt NYK, where I was Inspired by the narrative qualities of Yokohama-e prints, which fused imagery and techniques of East and West to record this first intense period of cultural exchange. My research there began with a series of visual translations of everyday objects, architecture, and forms from nature that stood out to me as a newcomer. I also a kept blog, “ihoojin no me kara“ (which roughly translates to “from the eyes of a visitor”) where I recorded this process of learning from and responding to the local culture.
I was particularly struck by the Ooka river, which flowed below the window of my apartment, running onward through intensely urban areas and supporting an astonishing array of fish, stingrays, and jellyfish in its mix of fresh and salt water. One of my initial drawings based on the river reminded me of ink drawings I’d seen depicting the extremely long hair popular during the Heian period. While written using different characters, in spoken Japanese the word “kami” is a homonym that can mean “hair,” “paper,” or a kind of Shinto spirit-god linked with natural forces. This multiple translation resonated with me, and I developed a drawing-based installation representing a waterfall or river of hair connecting the human spaces of the city to the river outside. As it moves through the interior and exterior spaces of the building, this “Kami” invokes the larger-than-life spirit of the river goddess Benzaiten, and suggests a supernatural presence linking ancient tales of Heian-period royalty to contemporary urban Japan.
This project was supported through the generous support of the Asian Cultural Council and a residency at Bankart NYK in Yokohama, Japan.
Kami, 2010 ink on paper, 275" x 40" unrolled
川／皮 KAWA with Andrew Yang, 2010 digital video with animation, 1:48 (click to view)
Bunrui Bento, with Andrew Yang, 2010 disposable lunch tray, headphones, looped video, paper, local shells, insects, plant life, 7.5" x 9.75" x 6"
Re:Production is comprised of an interview-based zine, a series of works on paper, a wall drawing, and a video created with artist and biologist Andrew Yang. This work examines the interrelationships between fertility and identity, imagining new visions of human reproduction during a time when fertility drugs and genetic modification seem to make all sorts of impossible things viable. Its imagery is drawn from the anatomy of other organisms and from the diverse experiences of women interviewed for the project.
Re:Production - Suggestions from the Animal Kingdom, with Andrew Yang, 2008 digital video with hand-drawn animation, 5:58 (click image to view)
Alternate Birth Plan #6, 2007 ink, gouache, cut paper, 45" x 30"
Inner Eye, 2006 ink, gouache, photocollage, and cut paper, 22" x 17"
Hermaphroditic, 2007 ink, acrylic, cut paper, 72" x 60"
Surrogate, 2007 ink and acrylic on paper, 35" x 24"
Ectopic, 2007 ink, acrylic, cut paper, 48" x 37"
Alternate Birth Plan #2, 2008 ink and acrylic on cut paper, 33" x 29"
Pregnancy Test, 2008 ink, latex paint, and cut paper on wall, 132" x 114" x 36"
Re:Productive Zine, 2008 interviews with 32 women on the topic of fertility and identity; xeroxed on bond paper with spray-stenciled cover, rubber band binding; 8.5" x 7" closed, 48 pages.
Inheritance, 2009 ink and latex paint on wall, 121" x 250"
Photographic documentation from a series of site-specific drawings exploring ritual, the supernatural, and the revision of man-made structures by other organisms. Created for the landscape and interior spaces of an aging farmhouse in rural Massachusetts.
Circulation, 2012 digital inkjet print, 22” x 30”
Grass Ritual, 2012 digital inkjet print, 22” x 30”
Hive/Hall, 2012 digital inkjet print, 22” x 30”
Inside Voices, 2012 digital inkjet print, 22” x 30”
Here are a few early experiments in reimagining the human body based on physical sensation. As a young person I learned to cope creatively with severe chronic pain, a process that later led me out of the studio to exchange experiences with others, transforming the invisible into something powerful, playful, and radical. This approach profoundly changed my relationship to the human body and to larger systems of support. Using paper to explore the fragile but flexible nature of these interconnected networks makes a lot of sense to me, whether it’s through the layered illogic of collage, the intimacy of hand-held zines, or the immersive qualities of large-scale drawing and installation. The trajectory of my work continues to evolve through projects and publications produced in collaboration with rural teenagers, scientists and historians, and an international community of artists raising children.
Symptom, 2005 ink, latex, foam, and paper pop-up on wall, 102” x 61” x 32”
Secret Symptom, 2005 installation view with peepholes into hidden chamber with "Symptom" and other smaller works installed inside. Screenprinted rash/rose wallpaper, synthetic hair, drywall, acrylic ink, latex, foam, and cut paper, 102” x 61” x 32”
Jack, 2006 documentation of collaborative public intervention, ink and cut paper drawing created by Jack Moore and Betsy Melchers, worn by Jack Moore.
Maggie, 2006 photographic documentation of collaborative public intervention, fabric and paper collage drawing created and worn by Margaret Eigenfeld
Personal Iconography Flashcards, part of an ongoing series, 1993 - present ink, acrylic, and gouache on paper, 4" x 6" each
Interior, 2004 pigmented ink, acrylic, cut paper, 120" x 91" x 35"
Sistren, 2004 ink, acrylic, and collage on cut paper, 49" x 37"
Translucent Transformation, 2006 small-press zine created in collaboration with a team of ruralteenagers, containing interviews and artwork re-visioning memories of illness, injury, and physical sensation. Xeroxed on white paper with screenprinted cover, rubber-band binding, 64 pages, edition of 100, 8.5” x7” closed
Betsy, 2006 documentation of collaborative public intervention, ink and cut paper drawing created and worn by Betsy Melchers
Branching Out, 2006 documentation of collaborative public intervention, digital inkjet print of acrylic, string, and cut paper drawing created and worn by Jack Moore
Blurt, 2004 acrylic and collage on paper, 39" x 38"
Demedicalization Manifesto, 2005 artist book edition, three-color screenprint on cut and folded paper, 15" x 12" x 1.5" closed, edition of 50