My gift and affliction in life is the ability to see potential in things.
Many years ago, I learned how devastating the denim industry was on natural water systems, and how cotton farming used remarkably high amounts of harmful chemical pesticides, and so I began exploring ways to divert jeans from landfills by making them into interesting or beautiful things.
Our capitalist/commercial society’s complicity with planned obsolescence and fast fashion irritates me because they destroy ecosystems, cause harm to the earth’s natural environments, and create illness in humans globally. We currently live in an extremely dangerous time of the Anthropocene. I am compelled to prevent things from becoming refuse: to see obscure beauty in trash and transform it into art.
Meanwhile, people hold similar emotional attachments to inanimate objects and living beings.
We go to great lengths to keep insentient belongings with us- to travel with them, preserve them, make memories with them. They have no feelings and the purpose they serve is ephemeral, yet we cling to them, squirrel them away and love them. This behaviour has driven me to attempt to reconcile the gap between wastefulness and the impulse to hold onto nostalgia by keeping recognizable elements of the original materials in my pieces.
I invented an acrylic paint/medium based concoction that allows me to manipulate, coat, and seal recycled denim as well as many other recycled and natural found objects. I use this method to merge my skills as a multidisciplinary artist to paint, draw, sew, print, digitally manipulate imagery, apply technology, sculpt, mould, and assemble; re-examining each as they bond to one another in unifying layers visually and conceptually. It is important to me to demonstrate that by applying cross-disciplinary skills, we can find inspiration and applications to reuse things.
When I look at a pair of jeans I dissect them into categories of salvageable fabric yardage, shapes that resemble familiar imagery, strings that will become reeds and grass, strips that look like flags, buildings, wires for birds to sit on and gnarly bits that will smush into amazing textures.
The motifs in textile stitchery are comforting. Sealing denim in paint gives it a feeling of being cast in plaster or bronze. It gives it a permanence that somehow outweighs its emphemerality and glorifies the nostalgia making it exciting for people to recognize where it came from.
It has become an obsession to see what else I can do with this seemingly inexhaustible resource and to attempt to understand how people can be emotionally attached to certain inanimate objects yet throw away so many others without abandon. If the world could look at garbage the way that I do; impulsively trying to find ways to transform or upcycle it, we could start to solve the oxymoron global issue of resource scarcity in some places and overwhelming amounts of litter and overflowing landfills in others.
I want there to be hope for this world. The idea that nature and man-made things can coexist and compliment each other feeds my inspiration, driving me to find more ways to explore creation.