Out of all the places you could be making art, why do you choose to do it here in Washington?
I didn’t really choose to make art here rather than anywhere else. Washington is just my home. Most of my immediate family lives here, and I’m lucky that the area we settled in is so strong in the arts. I got my Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting at the University of Washington. There is a good art scene in Seattle, which is inspiring and provides a lot of opportunity for shows. And the inspiration for my artwork comes from my connection to this place. Memories of places and things, the landscape, local music, and the people I’ve known here.
What keeps you interested in art?
I don’t think I’ve ever felt a disinterest in art. For me, and I imagine most artists feel the same, the lure of handling art materials is always there. Seeing and enjoying others’ work is terribly inspiring, too. I have felt discouraged at times when a piece or even a whole series doesn’t seem to be working, but I know that not every piece is going to be great, so it’s even more of a motivation to keep going and make as many pieces as possible.
Who are your favorite artists?
Andy Warhol is my favorite, mostly for his beautiful drawings. I love Kara Walker’s intense cut-paper silhouettes. I like the popular Southern California artists like Mark Ryden and Shag. And in the Northwest, photographer Glenn Rudolph and painters James Martin and Karen Ganz – she also happened to be one of my professors at the University of Washington.
You have exploded both as a painter and a printmaker. Aside form the technical differences, how do the creative angles differ? What are the differences you like most?
For me, painting is more forgiving. Things can be changed or added or removed easily. That’s part of the process. It’s really like building an image. Printmaking is much more exact. I have to have the image down before I start, while with painting I have a sketch but the path to the final image is a fluid, changing one. I enjoy the fact that printmaking is quick gratification, but painting can be a more thoughtful experience. I think that is usually evident in the finished product. I like doing both, especially within the same theme. Prints with simpler images and a more casual look are a nice compliment to a painting that is more involved, more worked over.
Your use and balance of pink girly-ness with rugged edges seems very empowering. Did you intend to make a bold statement about the strength and beauty that can only co-exist in the Northwest, or what?
This series is really just about my love for the area I live in. I wasn’t thinking about making a feminist statement. But then I am a woman claiming a place in the Northwest through these images of female lumberjacks frolicking at a logging camp. I suppose I do feel a little empowered, myself, by creating these images.
Who is Lumberjack Lolita?
Lumberjack Lolita is a feisty character in a non-existent story about lumberjack women in the Northwest. The different pieces in the "Lumberjack Lolita" series don’t necessarily go together with any rhyme or reason, but I made each image thinking they could be a scene in a story.
Do you think that there might be a backlash from Lumberjack Lolita, like the whole viewing-women-as-objects thing?
I did wonder if there might be such a backlash but have not experienced it yet. I don’t know, maybe some people might think the Lolitas are a little cheesecakey, but they’re not drawn in a lascivious or exploitive way. I think it’s sad if we are so P.C. now that we can’t enjoy the female form for its basic appeal. Just like a woman’s body is enjoyable to look at, I find it equally enjoyable to draw. The images are self-indulgent of me, and I’m OK with that.
Do you come from a logging family? What kind of rugged history have you got?
I do not come from a logging family, but my family lived in North Bend, Wash., [of “Twin Peaks” fame] for four years when I was a kid. Many of my friends’ dads worked for Weyerhauser; that is as close to the logging industry as I ever got. When I was 12 my parents moved us to Issaquah, where we lived on Tiger Mountain. It was great living in the woods with all the beautiful trees and the view of Mount Rainier and the excitement of seeing a bobcat or a bear once in a great while. Deer and raccoons were usually present.
What are your thoughts regarding the timber industry?
I think it’s a tragedy when old-growth trees are cut down for quick cash and no concern for the ecological implications. But I understand that the logging industry is an important one and many companies in the Northwest are doing a better job of managed logging, with replanting programs and such.
Got any favorite music?
I like alt. country: Neko Case, Wayne Hancock. Seattle’s KEXP radio has a rockabilly show, "Shakin’ the Shack," that’s been on for like 15 years. I listen to it every Friday night religiously.
If you had limitless space, a bottomless budget and plenty of time, what kind of art show would you put together?
I’d put together a show of really good Northwest landscape paintings. I think that must sound awfully conservative, but I love landscapes.