Thursday, November 21, 2013


The future is bigger than our imaginations. It’s unimaginable, and then it comes anyway. To meet it we need to keep going, to walk past what we can imagine. We need to be unstoppable. And here’s what it takes: you don’t stop walking to congratulate yourself; you don’t stop walking to wallow in despair; you don’t stop because your own life got too comfortable or too rough; you don’t stop because you won; you don’t stop because you lost. There’s more to win, more to lose, others who need you.
You don’t stop walking because there is no way forward. Of course there is no way. You walk the path into being, you make the way, and if you do it well, others can follow the route. You look backward to grasp the long history you’re moving forward from, the paths others have made, the road you came in on. You look forward to possibility.  That’s what we mean by hope, and you look past it into the impossible and that doesn’t stop you either. But mostly you just walk, right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot. That’s what makes you unstoppable. - Rebecca Solnit

Whether today counts as my seventh time falling, I am prepared for it not being the last. These words help me see that there is more to this life beyond this fall and that I must keep walking.

Monday, November 18, 2013


Rebecca Solnit writes; "Disasters often unfold a little like revolutions. They create a tremendous rupture with the past. Today has nothing much in common with yesterday -- in how the system works or doesn’t, in what people have in common, in how they see their priorities and possibilities."

My most recent work makes a connection between recent disasters and the impermanence of all things. Source material for the work comes from images of destruction after the so-called "Super Storms" that have hit hard across the world. There is something about these destructed man-made creations that become almost human. That they too, are impermanent and destructible. That they can be lost and ruined, dying and gone forever. 

My work has always been about the tension between the natural world and man kinds struggle over impermanence. This tension creates revolutions. I believe that is terrifying for most of us because it shows us how little control we truly have. We are human, destructible, impermanent beings and the world is much the same. We all will wake up one day and realize that today has nothing in common with yesterday. Within that time lapse something had been destroyed or created, lost or forgotten. 

The only thing we have is what we can control, because there will also be someone or something starting a revolution. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

falling into winter

This morning I woke up to see the apricot tree in our backyard nearly barren, the ground covered by our first snow of the season. Emptiness reveals everything around us; emptiness to fullness. Our yard is no longer private, winter has become an unwelcome visitor.

This year, we experienced a exuberant, glowing fall. The leaves bursted with colors, the sky a crisp blue, breathing nostalgic air of cider and pumpkin seeds. It was the last glow before the fall. It was like Winnie, shining before she passed. As the world explodes with color, it also prepares for death.

Seasons are much like life and death. We all look forward to the rebirth of Spring after the death of winter. Seasons also mark the passing of time; the time since I found out I was pregnant with Winona, her first kick in the Spring, her birth in the summer. And now, every season marks months that have passed without her. Five days after her birth, brought an early winter.

But like seasons, after the death of winter, there is birth. I look forward to whatever the next season will bring and what the passing of time will reveal. And the glow of next years fall.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


It took several weeks after Winnie's death for me to get back in the studio but I finally did it.
This first painting, entitled ".0001" is about the
fragility of all things and their impermanence.

Certain circumstances, namely death, can make one question everything. However this painting is not a far cry from some of the work I did before Winona passed away. I think it is imperative that we question everything, always. For we are not in control of nature; life nor death, even if we would like to think we are.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

hope. continued

I remember a time when I refused to get a cell phone and preferred being nearly completely disconnected to the rest of the world. Internet was a luxury then and I could barely define what the democratic party was let alone what war we were fighting or the rate at which glaciers were melting. I spent my weekends hidden in the forest somewhere, my summers on the road, my nights in the studio. You may have called me a coward, an introvert, a naive college student, and to a certain point I would agree. But there was something about not knowing that gave me knowledge or maybe it was just hope. It was a time when I made art for myself; it didn't require the utmost confidence and drive to be in the studio, it just was.  I just was.

What kind of hope did I have then? Sure there were all sorts of inner battles I was fighting at the time, (we all have something) but in some ways the not knowing gave me hope. The recent break up with my high school love was the worst tragedy I was aware of. I didn't know how it felt to hold a baby of your own, to see her grow out of your womb and into her own being. I didn't have the internet to constantly remind me of how climate change will effect my family's future. I wasn't carrying the scar of graduate school to tell me I wasn't a good enough artist. I didn't have things like facebook to tell me what I should fight for, who my friends are, what groups to join and how big Winona would be if she was still here with us. I didn't know how it felt to love and then lose.

I sometimes wish I could forget some of the things I have grown to know, that I could run off to the woods and hide, and shut out the sights and sounds of the world.  Yes there is climate change that is threatening the future of our kids. Yes, there is famine and disease, war, and a .001% chance of losing your beautiful baby girl to one extra 13th chromosone. There are all those things, but we have to take the ugly with the beautiful. The things I didn't know then and know now have made my life richer. Maybe that is what gives us hope, for if everything were beautiful we wouldn't know what it was like to lose, we wouldn't know how to hope. I'd like people to write more stories about hope.

Again, here, I can connect art with life. Life takes hope and courage, it is both ugly and beautiful. Walking into the studio takes hope. It takes courage. Art can be ugly, it can be beautiful, it is life. Life is art.

"The Hard Task of Hope"

Today is one of those days when I question the reality of hope. I have been unable to come to an answer as to where hope exists from the little that is left. I have searched roadways and skies, the backsides of leaves, barely clinging on to the branches that keep them afloat. I have searched smiles, truths and lies, questions and answers. for something. to keep. going.

"you fall seven times and you get up eight." Today I am tired of falling.  I want a hand to help me back up. I want a little taste of hope to pinch me in the back and say, 'it is going to be OK.'

The link below is a beautiful article written about "The Hard Task of Hope" but a father who lost his son.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

row row row your boat

Some days the water can feel so deep and thick. It creeps up to my nose. I hold my breath. The water covers my eyes and I cannot see. The world is dark.

It is easy to let yourself become submerged in water, especially when you're standing still. When everything you thought you understood, thought you had, has fallen from your grasp and the whole world is still.

But even within that stillness there is something.

So, I pick myself back up. Dry myself off and hop back into that boat.

row row row your boat.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Hope is the thing with feathers 
That perches in the soul, 
And sings the tune--without the words, 
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard; 
And sore must be the storm 
That could abash the little bird 
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land, 
And on the strangest sea; 
Yet, never, in extremity, 
It asked a crumb of me.

-Emily Dickinson

Monday, September 30, 2013

life is for the living

The sun rose this morning to a beautiful fall day. Quite perfect in fact. Perfect despite the shearing pain that has sat at the back of my throat for the past 7 weeks. Seven weeks ago today I held Winona in my arms for the last time. Memories are everywhere; the trail she left on my belly, the smell of her hat boxed up in my room (in hopes that the smell never leaves it), videos and pictures. These are all we have left from the five days life gave us.

Sometimes, even when the sun rises to reveal a gorgeous fall day, I hate life for taking my daughter away. I hate that I was that 1 out of 10,000 people to have lost their child to Trisomy 13. I hate that all around me are people with healthy babies, siblings, families. I hate that I have only a memory left of my daughter, a memory so small it feels like it could just slip away. I fear that my memory of her, held in my hands close to my heart, will grow weaker until it slips through the spaces between my fingers. And then what will I have left in this life?

My mom told me that "life is for the living." Life is breathing, building, loving and trusting that things will work out as they should. Life is living each sunrise that you are given, acknowledging each token of hope. Life is also vulnerable to pain. We all experience pain and loss. It is figuring out how to keep on when life takes away. We are the living. Life is our gift.

"I feel the equivalence of pain and beauty, how each precipitates the other. I realize that its this paradox that makes me love the world; its this that makes me want to pinion my own tiny scrap of time or to hold my life in my arms as much of it as I can gather, like daisies." excerpt from the book Shadow Child, an apprenticeship on love and loss, by Beth Powers

Monday, September 23, 2013

the uselessness of nostalgia

Nostalgia was a word I always battled with in graduate school. I would throw it around unaware of the weight it would bear, especially when using it in the presence of my art history professors.  In her book On Longing, Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection, Susan Stewart looks at our desires and the "social disease of nostalgia," where  the present is denied and the past takes on an authenticity of being. Nostalgia is a sadness; a longing for something that is inauthentic because it is not part of a lived experience. It looks towards a utopian past, which only exists in an ideological reality. The point of desire that nostalgia seeks is the desire for desire; an absence of the mechanism of desire. 
I just returned back from a weekend at home where my youngest brother was married. My parents farm always hits a soft spot with me, especially in the fall. It is nostalgic. A very sentimental longing for the past; memories of childhood on the farm. 

While my parents farm is one of my most favorite places to be, the present is not. I have to constantly remind myself to be present, even in the midst of pain and suffering. I want to fast forward to another time or go back to the past before Winona. While I know that I am wasting my days, hours and minutes thinking about months from now and months ago, anxious energy just keeps me moving away from today, from this very minute. The uselessness of nostalgia. Nostalgia directs us away from the present and accentuates the reality that ALL things are temporal. None of us have what we have today forever, nor will we continue to have what we had forever. So is it possible to just watch and listen, taste and smell, all that we have this very minute?

"May we go back, then, to the floor of pebbles beneath the water and the fish in the sunlight's ripping net. . . . and watch?"-Alan Watts

Thursday, September 12, 2013


I should have mentioned in my previous post (up in my tree) that the tree I sit up in is a deciduous tree. An important distinction to make because these trees are ever changing. They offer a different view once a new season rolls around. Six weeks after Winona's passing, we are now in the midst of a new season. After a long hot, and pregnant summer, the fall air and rain is a welcome change. And a changing season marks the passing of time. The past six weeks have been the longest and hardest I have ever encountered. I am a different person than I was six weeks ago, and the view from up in my tree is also a different one.

About a year ago, when I first started this blog, I wrote about "seeing through the leaves." I wrote how while out for a walk with my oldest daughter I started to see things I hadn't noticed before. The fallen leaves begun to open up things that were once hidden. This is me today. As I sit still perched in my tree, I have begun to see a new view. The state of grief evolves from day to day. But it is also true that my deciduous tree has begun to reveal a beautiful view; that I was so blessed to have carried, gave birth to and met my daughter Winnie. That she has given me and everyone around me more than any of us could have ever expected. That she is an angel who has taught me all about the fragility of life, and that life is not without death. She has taught me love, for that is all she ever knew, and for that I am grateful.

It is true that what I do with my grief and loss of Winnie is up to me. The loss of Winnie was much like the loss of leaves on deciduous trees. Leaves fall as an act of nature, out of anyones control. Losing Winnie was out of my control. But I can still decide to see the fall colors, and then empty branches covered in snow, and then tiny buds growing to reveal a rebirth. For life keeps moving, out of our control. It is the view that we can decide on.

Monday, September 9, 2013


forgiveness is.

one of these days i will start painting again. one of these days i will cook again. one of these days i will smile at the pregnant women i see and women with new babies. time will not stand still. my canvas, my presence, will not be empty. this will be me standing here down from my tree. i will be here and ready. i will forgive the past for taking so much and for the future giving so little. and art, the present, will again be about all that is beautiful and broken and tragic and forgiving. it will be about life, life and death, the deepest darkest depths of life.

"forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different."

sleeping canvas.

Everyone is tucked in under the night air. The crickets begin their chorus to the orange gleam of the streetlights. My midwife told me that most women go into labor in the middle of the night. When the rest of the world is asleep, these miracles begin to surface.

Sleep is something I have been thinking a lot about lately; how much of an opportunity I have for it these days but how little I use that opportunity. Ironically, I am up, unable to sleep, because I am thinking of how little sleep I should be getting.  I expected a year of no sleep and while I was slightly anxious about this, I am now overwhelmed and anxiety ridden with the amount of time I now have to sleep.  I imagine waking up every two hours to nurse, filling the empty space between my arms. I imagine my friends, (most of which just had babies) sleepwalking between beds, exhausted with the filled space of their hearts. For them, sleep is emptiness.

Sometimes, emptiness and sleep go hand in hand. Once you are able to empty your mind, you can find yourself more able to sleep. But emptiness can also be terrifying. An empty canvas has an unknown past and future. An empty canvas has a presence just waiting to find relevance. It is quiet emptiness that strangles; stillness that creeps up every nerve in your body awaiting for something to break. What is the present? The present should be sleep. The present should not be sleep. The present is an empty canvas.

Friday, August 23, 2013

the burden of love.

We watched her die. Five times. She stopped breathing, turned blue and cold. Helpless and yet at peace. And we grieved and cried and screamed. As we watched we tried to memorize every part of her knowing how little time we had left. Her fingers and toes, her tiny hands embraced beneath her chin, her hair, skin and shoulders. We were stuck smack dab in the middle of a feverish nightmare. Watching our little girl slip away from us. And then she gasped and fought and we had her with us for some more time until it happened again.

Winnie was so tired. She tried so hard. We wanted peace for her but selfishly wanted her to keep fighting so we could hold her for a few more days. The hardest lesson we will ever be asked to learn; that what was best for her was not in this life with us. That we would no longer hold her, feed her, watch her grow. The simplest things parents take for granted. We would have none of that.

The pain we feel, the distance this has created within ourselves, between us and the world has come from the burden of love. My empty tummy and arms are painful reminders of what we lost. Our house, stricken with silence and the reminder of her birth. I feel anger and emptiness, my milk spills out before me as a grim reminder of what I have lost. My belly soft from where she once thrived. I look forward to the days when the pain no longer constructs my very being. When the burden of love returns to joy.

emptiness. isolation. grief. memory. anger. pain. not a typical list you might expect when one is thinking of love. but when the source of love is taken away from you, this sort of list barely touches the surface, at least for now while the grief is still so deep.

We are vulnerable in love. Deep, joyous, painful love. The kind that just crushes you with joy. The kind that pins you down and squeezes the breath out of you. Love love love. I couldn't shout loud enough, run far enough, have held her any closer for those few days I had her to express the love I feel for her. I want so much more.

The burden of love is the pain it can cause. But I hold close that I will soon look back not at its burden but the strength it has given me, kindness, compassion. I will forever hold onto the shooting star I saw the night she was born, and again the morning she passed away. That is the kind of love that surrounds and embraces, that will get us through this. Winona, my silent companion for 38 weeks, my breathing, beautiful little girl for five days. You have given us so much and I wouldn't trade in that burden for anything.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

up in my tree

Two weeks and 1 day ago I had a miracle. My daughter, Winona Michele, was born. Since then, I have been perched up in my tree looking down at the past, present and future trying to make sense of what happened and trying to hold onto the miracle that she was.

Little Winnie came into our lives just as quickly as she left. She died in my arms only five days after birth.

From up here in my tree time stands still. The past and future seem like impossible realms of time. I am neither moving forward or backward but beneath me the world keeps turning.

My Winnie kicked and pooped, she farted and sucked. She was beautiful.  She was mine. I touched every part of her, amazed at seeing what had grown within me for the past 38 weeks. But just five days is not enough to leave a significant mark on my memory. Some days I forget and hate myself for it. I never wanted to let her go, but knew that I had to.

So now I hold onto everything she was and could have been, every breath she worked so hard to take. I hold onto her strength and courage and her beating heart that tried so hard. I am so proud of her and proud to be her mom, but I miss her so much.

This post isn't directly about art, but life. And art is life; it tries to make sense of all that is beautiful, ugly, tragic, fleeting. Winnie brought us all of those things. And so, she brought us art. And soon, when I am ready to come down from my tree, I will compose what I can to share with the world all that I saw from up here in my tree and down there with Winnie.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Cleaning House

check out these great deals on paintings! Contact me via my website if interested. ALL SOLD! Will post more discounted paintings soon!

12" x 12" $35
48" x42" $175
36" x 36" $125

12" x 12" $35
12" x 12" $35
12" x 12" $35
12" x 12" $35
12" x 12" $35

12" x 12" $35

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

the art of craft

Recently found this great website chock full of ideas for things to make with little ones. Creativity needs maintenance. Why not put it to work while spending valuable time as a parent?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Why I make art

I have performed this exercise before and if I remember correctly it didn't go well the first time. In the midst of having an emotional art making breakdown, I had decided I make art for me and that was that. Anyone who had a comment or disagreement about it could take it elsewhere.

How Trees Work, mixed media on wood, 2007
That was about six years ago now and it is amazing to see how much my life has changed since then and my intentions as an artist. Writing poetry in fleeting moments of adolescent love, living in complete idealism with nothing at stake, traveling for months at a time, risk-taking at the expense of no one (except maybe your parents), all I have moved on from. I will admit all of those things were great for creativity, and I often look back at previous paintings and crave those moments back.

But presently, why do I make art? While I don't have any passionate heartbreak or fleeting moment of individuality to create art about, I do have a very serious and passionate intention. The future of our planet instantly becomes most imperative when you bring a little one into this world. It is not us that will pay the price, it will be our children.  She has influenced me in a way no heartbreak, or solo trip to South America could ever do.

Tending to a relationship with the environment, ultimately becomes a tending to others and can inspire potential change. This relationship with our environment is what I would like to confront through my work. How can we cultivate mindfulness to become more aware of our environment?

There is no denying that art is a selfish act, but motherhood is a self-less act. The combination of the two have created a very interesting place in my present life. One that requires considerable management in order to strive towards both continuously with dedication and drive. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

enough said.

the balance game

Nearly five months have passed since a new chapter began in my life. Seven or so months ago, I was given an opportunity I had only dreamt of; to be a full time Professor of Art. It was a dream come true. Or was it? The catch was, not only would I lose valuable time with my now two year old daughter, but I would commute to Idaho, a 2.5 hours drive on a weekly basis. That is, I would spent Monday - Thursday in Idaho away from family. Needless to say, I was in quite a conundrum. Now, five months into it, my decision to accept the position remains in question.

How many mothers play this balance game? When you choose to go to the gym rather than play with legos. When the thought of a weekend away leads to unbearable feelings of guilt. When you take a job in another state to expand your resume, only to be saddened by missed moments.

Often we find ourselves wishing to be somewhere we are not. I knew that merely being offered the position had left me in a hole. That if I did not take it, I would have regretted that I hadn't. And if I did (and I did) I would constantly (and I do) wish that I hadn't.

What is the answer? How do we find balance between motherhood, art, work, life?

A friend of mine recently came out with a book that looks at the hardships of working mothers: