What are some of your inspirations- art or otherwise?
Art & entertainment history. Depression-era hollywood musicals, vestiges of vaudeville and burlesque theater... I like to be reminded that life is one big weird party.
The Ringling Circus Museum in Sarasota, FLA is probably my favorite place in the world. They completely immerse you in all kinds of paraphernalia - posters, newspaper articles, movies, costumes, gilded animal carriages all telling the story of this seemingly boundless and frankly insane creative enterprise in American history. I've been twice and the experience greatly impacted my work.
My Gramma is quite the inspiration. Hilda - she's 88 and she sings and plays guitar in three bands, and she goes out ballroom dancing with her boyfriend two times a week. I can't keep up but I will keep trying!
How do you integrate your creative process in your daily life?
I tap dance! Some days are for making and some days are for teaching but I can fit tap dancing into almost any day. I can put on a record on in my studio and shim sham, I can soft-shoe some time steps in between classes, I can flap down the aisle at the supermarket. I'm not very good but somehow shuffling off to Buffalo seems to make everything else better…
Can you talk a little bit about scale. How did you go from intricate small illustrations meant for a book to a large scale mural? How does this effect your work on a conceptual level.
On the small scale, my illustrations come together through a blending of collage and drawing processes. I love to sample vintage ephemera, xeroxing photos andetchings for visual textures and the history that comes with them.
To make “life-size” characters, like the bird in the party dress, I enlarged these small-scale drawings using a large format xerox machine, traditionally used for copying blue prints. “The Audience” needed special handling - the original illustration is 12" tall. To go up to 15’ tall, IOlabs in East Providence, RI, scanned the original at a mega high resolution then sliced the file into 10 tiles for me and it was sent out to print.
Conceptually, when a viewer is looking at a rectangular illustration - in a frame orin a book - it’s a window into another world. But at a larger scale, these characters are liberated - they are moonlighting in the viewer’s world and I think they have become more relatable. Even though they are flat paper images on a wall, and black and white at that, they encourage interaction and play. The shift is dynamic, it becomes theater.