Everything in my life, the very essence of my existence, is expressed through my paintings. My artistic process is long and slow First, I see it first in my mind, then I carry it in my heart and then, eventually, I paint it. For example, I recently finished a painting titled 'On the Altar.” The idea for this painting came to me when I was very young, on a Good Friday in 1965. I was ten. Twenty-four years later, I photographed one of my daughters under a veil in anticipation of painting that image. I did not actually began the piece until 2001, working on it on and off, and only just completed it in 2009. My paintings take as long as they take to be everything that I need them to be.
The figures in my work are often modeled on the people in my life. I create the rest of the images from the ideas that I carry inside me. The marriage between these two things, the inner and the outer, the spiritual and the material, is fundamental to my work. The process of creative thinking connects us to our inner most selves as well as to the cosmic energies of the world outside ourselves. My work expresses this connection.
My subject matter has unfolded into two specific veins. One is the mythological evolution of feminine divinity. Using my visions and my dreams, I paint my personal mythology of female icons. There is a mystery inside each of us, an inner world of myth that I believe we all share. The fact that myths cross cultures and continents and span over thousands of years is a testament to our connected inner visions. The language of our dreams is shared universally. The second subject of interest for me is the beauty and energy of children. I have taught painting, drawing, and printmaking to children in my studio for seventeen years. I have a very strong connection to my students and it was inevitable that they would, in time, become a part of my painting. My students and my studio assistants have modeled for me. I have been blessed with the ability to share my love for the creative process with them and they, in turn, have inspired my work.
Recently, the iconic images I am working on are emerging directly from my imagination. In the past, I would be inspired by the model. I would see it, then paint it. The environment that the model existed in always came from my imagination .This combination of the real with the unreal would create a dream-like effect. Recent paintings, however, like 'Mother of the Waters' and 'Fertility Temple of the Spring Equinox', and “Child at the Shrine', are different in that they there are entirely emerging from my own personal inner world—the composition, the land, and the figures.
We share, as a species, a universal language of inner vision. My work is about painting, piece by piece, this inner world. When I first began to paint my female icons, I was careful not to research the image until the piece was done for fear of contaminating the original impulse. When I finished the piece, only then did I begin to do research. I found references to my imagined goddesses that spanned thousands of years and many different cultures. Finding those connections to my own personal vision left me feeling amazed and happy while reinforcing my conviction that my work is on the right track. Now, I realize that everything is so interconnected inside and out that the connections will come whether we are looking for them or not.
Studio: 708 N. 1st St., Ste. CR30, Mpls, 55401
Jean Stephen Galleries
The Women’s Building, Funded by a grant from the Boss Foundation
North Hennepin Community College, Gentle Surrealism
Bloomington Art Center
Wall Street Gallery
Jean Stephen Galleries
Agora Gallery, Figuratively Speaking, Chelsea, New York, NY
Wilensky Arts Reunion Show, California Building Gallery
Minnesota Women Painters, North Hennepin Community College
Intermedia Arts Minnesota, Conversations about Roots
Mira Gallery Instituto de Cultura y Educacion,
Inspired by Women, work was selected for publication
Arts in Harmony: Elk River
St. Paul Art Crawl
The Art Institute of Minnesota
Premier Gallery, Received 1994 Children’s Choice Award
Bloomington Art Center:
Award of Excellence, Highest award given in 2D
Award of Excellence, Highest award given
Grand Prize, Highest award given
1990, 1991, 1994
Second Prize Awarded
Minneapolis College of Art & Design:
Women’s Art Registry of Minnesota Gallery:
1985, 1987 & 1988
Merit Awards received
Art Center of Minnesota, Minnetonka:
Received Merit Award and the work traveled to following locations: Owatonna Art Center, Mankato State University, Southwest State University, Landmark Center, St. Paul
Received Merit Award and work traveled to following locations: Myles Reif Performing Art Center, Mankato State University, Southwest State University
Received Merit Award and work traveled to following locations: Town Square Park, St. Paul, Southwest State University, Myles Reif Performing Art Center
University of Minnesota; Bachelor of Fine Arts, 1983
Paintings and prints in numerous private collections throughout the Midwest.