Anxiety is paradoxical; it can be a negative emotion that cripples us or it can be a catalyst for creation. My work revolves around the way people understand their anxieties through narrative—either constructing their own narrative or interpreting other narratives. For example—the wellknown tale of Little Red Riding Hood is a cautionary tale warning children of the possibility of danger, communicating parents’ anxieties about their children’s wellbeing through the medium of story. I use my own anxieties as a narrative starting point for my drawing and printmaking installations.
My work as an artist has been deeply influenced by my childhood experiences on two acres of forest in rural Newfoundland where my father built our family home. On this land, I was allowed to run wild—either with my brothers or on my own—exploring the whimsy and darkness of both my natural surroundings and my own imagination. These formative experiences and the impressions that they made continue to fuel my artistic imagination—for example, many of the figures in my installation Nature and Other Terrible Things carry tools that I remember strongly from my youth and have the faces of animals I encountered in the woods. Some of the contemporary artists who influence my work are Jim Holyoak, Kiki Smith, and Caledonia Dance Curry—specifically, Jim Holyoak’s use of textures and media, the way Kiki Smith draws from myth and fable, and Caledonia Dance Curry’s technique of surrounding the viewer in an immersive world.
Drawing and printmaking are intimate processes that provide me with a sense of repetition and ritual. These techniques, as well as the love of fantasy, myth, fable and wonder that I discovered when I was young, give my work a whimsical quality—a fantastic suspension of reason that I hope will make the viewer giggle or provoke a sense of awe. In my recent installation print and drawing works, I have been moving further and further off the wall in an attempt to surround the viewer in an imaginary world like the ones I would have surrounded myself in as a child in the woods by my home—a world of imagination, costumes, magic and sensorial realms built on nonsensical stories and Newfoundland images and folk legends.