I’ve had a surprisingly hard time writing about what is behind my work. Every time I begin, it seems like I’m just stating really obvious things. Oddly, I’ve come around to thinking that stating the obvious seems to be what needs saying. I think about the changes which have taken place over my lifetime, and witness the problems, existential and otherwise alarming, unfolding every day. As an artist, I feel a duty to respond to our time through what I make and display in public places, and to offer something ultimately constructive.
My stained glass windows are filled with native flora and fauna, often in dense tapestry-like swaths. In many pieces there are images of traditional farming practices, domestic arts, and historic buildings. Children’s windows show kids playing and reading outdoors.
These images are not meant to be read as nostalgic, or as simply referring to some bucolic landscape long past. They are meant to function as a sort of antidote. I tell visual stories of every place being made up of specific plants, insects, animals (whether these are still in evidence or not), and the ways people have worked within this web of life and landscape to live, grow and play. Over and over again I try to say what is obvious – that we are part of the tapestry of life of a place. This tapestry is our life-support system, nourishing our bodies, minds, and hearts, and reflecting back to us our place in the world. Ignoring, or worse, being ignorant of this fundamental relationship allows humans to think of nature as a limitless resource and a bottomless dump, eternally exploitable. Lacking appreciation for the web of life surrounding and supporting us also robs us of our birthright: a sense of belonging to a dynamic, living wholeness.
I’ve read that the average child now spends 7 minutes outside per day. Also, scientists report that since the mid-1970’s, over 50% of the wild vertebrate animal population in North America have disappeared. In Central America that figure is over 80%. With this kind of information in mind, I am constantly reevaluating what I can do! One product of this consideration is an ongoing exploration into making work in other media which hopefully brings up questions, reframes issues, and presents information, etc. Some of that work is pictured at the end of this writing.
I think most thinking people are aware of our most grievous problems. What seems to be lacking to summon the will to act and change is a deep feeling of affection for what we are losing.
This is why I return to glass again and again. The pure light and color streaming through stained glass is uplifting in itself. Embedding imagery of the beautiful and fascinating species we share our place with, and showing others living in communion with this landscape, is a powerful combination. The ability of beauty to interrupt thought patterns which keep us immobilized is profound, and one that I am constantly exploring. I get dismayed when I think that the problems are so enormous, and what I can do is so insignificant. My conclusion is that all I can do is try, in every avenue available, to point to the obvious – we have one home, there is no planet B, we are all kin, and we must work this out together.