Since 2001, I have been making large-scale sculptural installations consisting of fabric, pipe cleaners, wire, string, plastic, thread and fishing weights that have been shown in gallery and museum settings, outdoor spaces, and most recently, in the six-story stairway of a building. The installations are drawings-in-space that cover, divide, encircle, and fill the spaces in which they are situated. My work involves both the slow, plodding movement of patching and sewing pieces of cloth and plastic to linear structures made of pipe cleaners, as well as quicker, more gestural actions that connect all of the parts into systems, making large suspended sculptures. Over the years, they have taken various forms: parasitic-like growths that cover interior architectural elements and outdoors structures; hanging tent forms that immerse the viewer; suspended walls that curve and divide spaces; excessive, organic masses that transform rooms into caves. I often see my work as being in flux and replicating various states of proliferating growth.
Often my installation work has focused on rhizomatic structures. Previous room-sized pieces have been inspired by marine and plant biology, as well as architectural and urban models. While the forms that make up my work suggest systems or structures, they are also meant to somehow reflect time and my own hand in the work.
Greenhouse Mix was a 2014 site-specific installation comprising two galleries and the stairway landing of the Philadelphia Art Alliance's Wetherill Mansion that was inspired by the city's history as a center for horticulture. Responding to the period details of the PAA galleries, I reconfigured my piece green-house (based on the stacked stones of botanist John Bartram's seed house which he built himself in 1760) in one of the gallery spaces. Victorian-style ferneries influence the installation in the second gallery which contained both real and textile ferns, in addition to a sound recording by Van Stiefel. The project on the stairway landing, Frakturing, echoes the shapes and colors of PA Dutch Fraktur designs, the botanical imagery in the original 1905 stained glass window, and the structure of fracking towers.
For the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville’s Project Atrium space in 2014, I created a suspended, monumental installation entitled Wider Than the Sky, which was based on the rhizomatic networks of the brain. After my father suffered an episode of encephalitis in 2012, which caused mainly temporary damage to the speech and language area of his brain, I began to think about how the circuitry of the brain can be scarred and damaged and then “re-grow” itself, like a plant. I was also inspired by Emily Dickinson’s poem “Wider Than the Sky” which addresses the brain’s capability to contain immeasurable vastness and creativity.
Quarry is a suspended, permanent piece that was
commissioned for the stairway of a new 6-story Liberty Property Trust building
(designed by d2 architectural firm) in Malvern, PA. It was completed in
February 2015. Because the building is adjacent to a large quarry, I wanted to
incorporate rock and rock wall imagery into the eighty feet high work. I began with the
Bartram-inspired seed house “wall” I had previously constructed for Greenhouse Mix as the foundation for the piece. I expanded it and added a central blue line,
which traveled and multiplied on its way up the six story stairway to the sky.
Throughout "Quarry", the shapes and lines of the work, mingle with
and emphasize the architectural lines of the building, as well as with the lines
of the quarry outside.