When first seeing my work, people often ask me how I got started in this medium. Well, let me tell you.
I graduated from St. Lawrence University in 2016 with a Bachelor's in Studio Art and no real plans for my future. Typical artist, right? My compulsion to create art is all-encompassing, leaving no room for silly things like making money or having a career. So, I moved back home and got a part-time job while I thought about my future.
As part of this “future thinking” I decided to organize my life, or at least my possessions. This was a daunting task for someone who has saved every childhood memento since pre-school, but I jumped right in.
I grabbed a few boxes labeled “special things,” plopped them and myself down on the floor of my childhood bedroom and started organizing. Everything went into one of three piles; keep, donate, toss. It quickly became evident that the “keep” pile was much larger than the other two. Everything brought back memories. There was a bracelet my friend got me, a stone I found on the beach, beads from a little kids’ art set. I couldn’t just get rid of it, but I didn’t really want to lug the stuff around for the rest of my life either.
"I just put things where I felt they should go, letting the colors and patterns of the objects dictate their placement."
Without really thinking about it, I grabbed the cardboard backing from one of those jumbo drawing pads, a bottle of Elmer’s glue, and started sticking stuff together. There was no plan; I just put things where I felt they should go, letting the colors and patterns of the objects dictate their placement. Eventually, a pattern of sorts started to emerge. When I ran out of Elmer’s, the only glue in the house was wood glue, so I used that. This took many weeks, and between gluing sessions I continued to organize and sort, unearthing all kinds of interesting things.
I found shells and stones from summer trips to Lake Ontario, buttons that had been in a jar in the attic of the house my dad bought when I was ten, coins from my grandfather’s coin collection, key-chains, game pieces, single earrings, and a lot more.
I then found a container of beads that had accumulated over the years and started working on another project. It was this project that caught the eye of one of my mom’s friends. She commented how much she liked it, and asked if I would make one for her. Up to this point, I had just been fooling around, having some fun, so this was the first time I had considered that other people might be interested in what I was doing. This was a real turning point in how I began to view my work going forward.
I was surprised by the request, but willing, so I asked what her favorite colors were, and with those in mind, began to design a collage. That was the first piece I ever completed or sold. I haven’t stopped since.
Things have changed slightly (I no longer use Elmer’s glue, for example) and I have honed my technique over the years, but I still keep the initial energy going; just putting things down and letting the pieces speak to me. With few exceptions, I let the materials dictate my designs.