(Kneading, Grandma Collective 2018)
Reliability and cooperation are at the top of my list of what it means to be human. As a glass artist, the joy brought from helping others realize their ideas is perhaps the greatest part of working in a studio. The excitement of collaborating with other craftspeople makes me my most authentic, energetic self- creating something that communicates, using communication to create it.
I believe human nurture is much more powerful than human nature. My paternal grandmother taught me how to weave when she gave me my first loom. My maternal grandmother taught me to set a table and to create a comfortable environment. The dichotomy between my hand quilting paternal grandmother and my table setting maternal grandmother is something I work to balance and understand myself. I am trying to comprehend the nuances of adult behavior and interpretations. My maternal grandmother, representative of human’s inventions created to make us “more comfortable” and my paternal grandmother as the ancient resilience of life; both working inside the domestic realm. Human nurture and the experiences we have as children shape us, far more than our genetics play into our work.
Ferns, the first thing I ever wove, share that same resilience- allowing parts of them to die in order to support new life, growing on almost any surface, no matter how inhospitable, similar to the most beautiful form of art- the making of what you need, of what you have.
This battle between the ancient resilience and modern comfort is where I find craft today. The possibility of almost anything we make to be made by machine, faster and cheaper, forces us to wonder about the value of our works, forcing our hand to make things no machine ever could. The idea of a handmade mug is one I refer back to- each object only has the value you assign to it. The value of your daily coffee mug only exists because you have connected with that object.
I think about the domestic expectations not only of women but men as well. My father was a stay at home dad who raised my younger siblings and me in the Virginia countryside. I was frequently hospitalized for food allergies which sent me into anaphylaxis- so every meal was prepared at home. My father worked in the food industry as a bread maker and a head chef before my birth interrupted that career path. While he considers woodworking to be his expressive art form, he crafted beautiful, carefully thought out meals for my family, every single night. He taught us that the best way to show someone you love them is to make them a warm meal. As a result of growing up in this environment, I knew fractions before the alphabet and could recite Nestle’ Toll House Chocolate Chip cookie recipe before I could read.
I use bread making as a platform for discussion and collaboration. I have connected with people I never would have spoken to, as they share their memories of making bread with their mothers, grandmothers, fathers, children. It serves as an interview, loosely formatted, between my bread making partner and myself. As we mix the ingredients, we share techniques passed down through loved ones. As the bread rises, we can elaborate on the nuances of our associations, and as we eat it, we enjoy the fruits of our labor and each other’s company.
“The thread I find that draws together all mediums I enjoy working in- glassblowing, quilting, weaving, cooking, gardening, printmaking- is an ironically machinelike repetitive act of the body, communicating all the while.”
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More about The Grandma Collective
While paying homage to our grandmothers, we seek to create an art space free from pretension of the art world, with an open dialogue. The Grandma Collective is a group of artists in a mutualistic symbiotic relationship; communally laboring to create bright, playful works that allow adults to escape to childhood- a sense of wonder, of fun, of fearless inter-human connection. While I try to create objects permitting adults to feel joy and excitement, my performance work is centered around the experiences of people and the ways we can all improve from working as a unit. I strongly believe in elevating the salon to the same level of importance of an exhibition.
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