This museum tab is the first in a series begun at the 2015 public opening of the new Whitney. It references Daniel Martinez’s tab made for the 1993 Whitney Biennial that read, “I CAN’T IMAGINE EVER WANTING TO BE WHITE.” I wanted to emphasize that there is nothing separating us except our own minds. I am not saying that I understand what it is like to be black. Instead, I want to imagine how we can connect rather than stay separate, how we can cross identity boundaries that keep us divided.
¾ inch height x 1 inch width
I created a cake to honor the St. Joseph River for an exhibition entitled “We Are the River.” It was round like those first offered to the gods of the sun and the moon in Roman times, and it was meant to evoke ancient rituals and special meanings that accompany a cake. It was served to the community on the exhibit’s opening night in remembrance of the river’s life-sustaining force and special place in the community’s history.
9 inch round cake atop a 12 inch round bottom
As part of the Releases series, everything used in this exhibition came from recycled materials. Participants were encouraged to draw on packing paper or on a “blackboard” made from cardboard and tuck their private written wishes inside a cardboard cube. In this way, the community was reminded that just as everyone can be an artist, so can every material serve as an object of art.
This interactive exhibition takes down the veil that separates the artist from the viewer. It piques a visitor’s imagination by encouraging them to interact with the work by either writing or drawing in the blank areas surrounding the intaglio prints. I invited visitors to not be merely a passive observer but to awaken their creative spirit and use my work as a pebble that starts a creative wave of imagination
intaglio on artistico fabriano paper prints each 30 x 22 inches
I created this idea for an exhibition entitled “Double Take” in which artists were encouraged to make art that caused viewers to look twice. My piece was a double-layer cake with an appropriated photograph of Marilyn Monroe in an unconventional role.
Known as the quintessential symbol of feminine sexuality, here she was an artist behind the camera, creating and framing meaning rather than posing for it. My intention was to not only create a play on words but to encourage visitors to consider conventional perceptions of gender roles.
9 inch round cake atop a 12 inch round bottom
BOOKS I, II, III
On the morning of 9/11, papers floated across the East River from the Twin Towers into my Brooklyn neighborhood. These papers had been touched by human hands, struck by a savage force and then blown to another place. I was unable to discard them and they became the basis of three handmade books – sacred objects that could help me speak visually about change, impermanence and death.
closed books 13.5 x 10.5 inches opens to 6 feet
After completing the handmade books about 9/11, I decided to make smaller, more intimate pieces. I wanted them to evoke some of my sensations and personal memories from that day — like a trace or a small part of something that remains after the rest in gone. Delicate paper, like skin burned, a fragile bruised world, the darkness of smoke and the actions of angry minds.
9 x 9 inches
With Connie Pfeiffer
Building on our original 2004 Releases, our aim was to give New Yorkers a means to express their deepest feelings on the fifth anniversary of the World Trade Center attack. We invited the community to create a communal work of art that remembered the lives that were lost on 9/11. Consciousness, thought, being alive for better or worse can cause anxiety, and one of the best ways to get rid of anxiety is to express it.
With Connie Pfieffer
In this piece we gave the community an outlet for release via self-expression. We encouraged everyone who entered the space to express themselves with writings, drawings, anything in need of creating. In this way we hoped that a work of art would be created not primarily by us but by the participants in the process. We wanted to generate a social organism where no piece of art appeared without the efforts of others.
MEDITATIONS ON THE TORTOISE'S PROCESSION
The center of this installation is a long train of silk, which I laid upon to give birth to my child. The tortoise shells represent the fertile bellies of pregnant women or a row of shields held by soldiers going to war. Within this ritual space there are opposing meanings: male versus female, peace versus war, nurturing versus destroying. As human beings we create, then we seek to protect our creation. Some even seek to destroy it.
tortoise shells: cotton paper pulp silk stained from birth: blood, placenta, amniotic fluids candles
INSIDE THE COOKROOM
1993 - 1994
This installation piece emphasizes the ritual of nurturing: from the earth that births our food to the people who cook it and the impermanence and fluidity of it all. A tree sprouts from a broom; bread is imperfectly cooked, then stacked like wood; a cabinet is covered in cracked earth, like an upright coffin, but filled with wishbones. All these are symbols of a culture rich in material goods but crying out for deeper sustenance.
These photographs were taken on ornithological banding expeditions off the North Carolina coast. By joining a research project from the Smithsonian Institute, I was fortunate to be a respectful intruder in a wildlife preserve where humans rarely tread. I was fascinated with the interplay betweens animals and humans, all of us vulnerable and ultimately totally dependent on the earth and each other.
silver print 16 x 20 inches
Weskie Gathering Baby Terns
A Gretch of Royal and Sandwich Terns
Brown Pelicans With Frustrated Bander
Royal and Sandwich Terns Caged
Royal Tern Nests With Eggs
A Newly Hatched Baby Royal Tern
Banders Investigate Nesting Grounds
A Brown Pelican Waits for Meal
A Baby Brown Pelican With Meal
Baby Brown Pelicans Comfort One Another
Bander Rex Releases Royal Terns
1984 – 1990
While living in the South, I felt an unspoken code of conduct that existed between black and white culture. We lived close together and interacted frequently but weren't supposed to know one another as full people. My camera was a gateway into black culture, and taking pictures became a way for me to interact. These photographs suggest that these "others" are exactly the same as "us" — that despite the appearance of difference, their hopes and cares, both ordinary and profound, are identical to ours.