Who I Am

I was once described as a porcelain doll with a spine of steel. I'd like to think that is accurate.

 

I was born on Halloween, 1959, in a small town in New Hampshire. My grandfather, an elderly Englishman, thought I was a changeling. Do you want to know a secret? I think I am, too.

 

I never liked drawing as a kid, but instead made clothes for my dolls or bracelets out of buttons. When I was three years old my mother put a #9 crochet hook and a ball of tatting thread in my hands, and I fell in love with fiber. Living in the country, I also fell in love with playing outdoors, putting together small "fairy houses" and other constructions from sticks, feathers and moss. My choice of materials hasn't changed much since then, but my use of them has become more sophisticated. The meaning and purpose of my creations has changed as well.

As an artistic teenager I often felt stifled by the restraints of my small town life. I made my escape from New Hampshire at age 17, equipped with a high school diploma, my creativity and a strong sense of rebellion. This naturally led me to the growing punk movement. I eventually settled in Allston, Massachusetts where I lived at 20 Ashford Street, one of the most well-known pieces of Boston punk real estate.

 

My friends and roommates from that time were, and for the most part still are, a small tribe of people that I am proud to be a part of. I was profoundly influenced by the music and art around me, and those influences still echo in my work today.

I attended Massachusetts College of Art with a Studio For Interrelated Media concentration. I loved the freedom to work in all kinds of materials that SIM encouraged. I became technically more adept at various processes and also began to more clearly focus on what I wanted my art to say. I had a difficult time at art school due to a struggle with systemic lupus, which I had been diagnosed with several years previously. Despite this, I was an honors student and feel I put everything I had into my time there. I like to describe my years at MassArt as "The most happy misery I have ever been in".

Since leaving art school I have worked in various media, but always most seriously in fiber and bricolage. I have done shows in Boston, New York, Tennessee and in my adopted home state of Alabama, and I have won a number of awards.

 

Among my other artistic activities over the years, I worked on a mural project with Sidewalk Sam in Boston's North End; designed costumes and props for Imagine That, a traveling children's theatre company; and worked as the production manager for Randall Scott, a clothing designer. That job pushed my knowledge of fiber even further, as I studied dye processes and surface design for fabric. I also worked as the surface designer and studio manager for a small pottery company, 3D & Up. My commercial pottery designs were featured at Henri Bendel stores and at the Industry chain of boutiques.

I have been fortunate to be able to travel to places that inspire me artistically, including England, France, Austria, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and throughout the southern part of the United States. In the last few years I've made five trips to Panama, going into the jungles to help my ichthyologist husband. I've loved every moment of it, even the spiders as big as dinner plates! The bright colors and lush vegetation of that country have had a noticeable effect on my recent work.. I'm hoping the next few years will see me making a trip to England, to study the folk art and costumes that have inspired so much so much of my art.

 

Currently I live and work in Huntsville, Alabama. I have a studio in my house which I share with a tiny black rabbit named Spooky and an altar for Oonagh, one of the Irish faery queens. I have been married happily for going-on 30 years to Dr. Bruce Stallsmith, a mad scientist with a love for fish. We spend as much time in New Orleans as possible.