Each of these projects begins with an identical, unfinished matrix of imagery, inspired by literary classics. From this point, layers of paint, collage and contingency collide to form unique works, with shared formal and conceptual underpinnings. Themes from historical stories are tested for contemporary relevance and veracity.
A Day with the Goats: Ruminating on Heidi
Beginning with on-site research in Switzerland, this series re-examines Johanna Spyri’s “Heidi” stories through a contemporary lens. Spyri’s theme of unity with the natural world takes on new significance today, as we grapple with and adapt to climate change. Works also examine ways Heidi has been co-opted by corporate culture; she is now a brand. Throughout the stories, Heidi’s fondness for goats symbolizes her connection to the natural world and Christian value systems. I have chosen wild mountain goats (ibexes and chamois) as a vehicle for investigating similar subjects.
“A Day with the Goats” depicts scenes in continuous narrative. As a point of departure, I’ve chosen the dramatic moments where, in jealous response to Heidi’s attentions to Clara (a young invalid girl), Peter vengefully destroys Clara’s wheelchair. However his plan backfires, as the destruction of the chair gives Clara the impetus to walk for the first time in years. Spyri’s Heidi takes on stereotypical gender roles in ways that reverberate to the present.
As a painter, I have placed myself in Heidi’s shoes and traveled to alpine ridges, where I’ve painted in plein air. Though Swiss cultural and topographical landscapes have changed immeasurably since Spyri’s invention of the young heroine, (depicting a glacier today has an entirely different set of connotations), Alpine landscapes remain an inspiring space for immersion and investigation.