I’m interested in the fluidity of culture and time. Growing up, we spent our summers in a diverse international community and the rest of the year in Irish Catholic, small town, middle America. I became intrigued by how stories and symbols create meaning that is interwoven between societies. Initially, this inspired me to write and illustrate books for children. Now, I explore that imagery in detailed, precise pieces, using ancient techniques and materials. My work encourages a reflection on how we are connected to nature, the past, and each other.
I was initially drawn to egg tempera while a student of art history. To this day, I’m fascinated by the medium’s intense colors and detailed linear qualities but especially by how practicing its slow meditative process connects directly to artists of the past. While used for thousands of years, egg tempera is strongly associated with the transition between late medieval times and the dawn of the renaissance, an era that formed the foundation of our modern world. It’s a period parallel to our own when the introduction of technology, in that case, the printing press, created an unprecedented spread of knowledge that led to wide-ranging social disruption. By returning to the medium, I hope to highlight that we stand at a similar precipice in which our choices will shape the coming era.
My paintings begin with imagery drawn from mythology and folklore. Living in California, where east and west, and having raised a child in a mix-raced family, I’m especially interested in the connections between Europe and Asia and how trade and war have transformed each society. I’m particularly drawn to mythical traits that echo between cultures. The Amabie figure, a Japanese yokai that is said to ward of plagues, projects the same apotropaic qualities and links to nature seen in fairy creatures from Irish tales.
The basis for my practice is silverpoint, which forms the first fully rendered layer of each painting. I’ve chosen this method to acknowledge the key role precious metals have played in the establishment of trade routes, the development of capitalism, and the ultimate atrocities of colonialism. I believe that before going forward the past must be acknowledged. Egg tempera combines ground pigments with egg yolk and water. The paint is made on the pallet and applied in thin layers in what is a time-consuming but meditative process. The colors are sourced from across the globe, each telling a unique tale of its place of origin and its journey to the artist’s pallet. Often this history has significance. For example, Ercolano Red is a natural earth containing clay tinted by iron oxide that has been used since prehistory and can be seen in many Roman frescoes throughout the former empire including those in Britain. The color is obtained in the vicinity of the ancient city of Herculaneum, best known for its destruction during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD, and forever linked with the concept of civilization’s frailty when confronted by the forces of nature.