Paintings...all individual pieces are comprised of grids or multiples. Below is an overview selection of wood and paper works, complete pieces, and statements.
All diptychs and grids are acrylic/chalk pastel/charcoal/mixed media on wood, that medium with which we build houses, make paper, burn for heat. I paint in multiples, mostly diptychs, because call and response is how we get though each day. Many of my paintings are abstracted topographies from maps and aerial photos, informing each other, and carrying threads of internal and external landscape coexisting, face to face, across the street, from across an ocean, from the corners that contain any room, any self.
The prophecy of middle age is that the belief in one’s teens and twenties that one can plan out and construct their reality becomes mythology by the time one reaches age 40. We are not building, we are starting over and over and over. Finding patterns is the only way to find a constant in a constantly changing life.
And within the stacking years of life plans gone their own way, a story writes itself. And always, there is light to counterbalance the dark, the found to counterbalance the loss–not to make up for it, not to make everything uncomplicated, but existing to be noticed, the crack in the door, where the rest of the day seeps in. It’s where the gray is.
The installation was surrounded by the geography of Rian’s paintings, and in between those was ripped out pages from an old geography textbook from the 1930s. The project used multiples and grids to explore internal connections and dialogue with the landscape of stories lived, chapters of chronic illness, work with refugees, immigrants, combat photographers, single motherhood, and reconciling plans with the reality of how days unfold. The dense scapes carried threads of internal and external landscape coexisting as Rian works to define home.
We are whole. We are each perfect in our own way, my son’s school took care of him through the traumas he went through in an intense and frightening sleepless 6 days. One professor, a classical cellist, brought his instrument to class and spent the whole period just playing for his students, giving them the only gift he could think of, giving them what he had. My friends and family offered to fly to LA and check in on the kids. My son and daughter showed strength and resiliency no 18 and 20 year old should have to call upon at such depths and at such a profound life and death level.
We are holes. Shells of humanity, walking into crowded community spaces and opening fire. On the 307th time this year in my country they could have shot my son and his friends. A few days later his campus was placed on lockdown due to a credible bomb threat. Across Los Angeles, on my daughter’s campus, her school was placed on lockdown due to an active shooter threat. No picture is complete, can ever be complete, as long as there are such vacancies–in our community, in our country, in our laws, in our morals, in our ethics, in our values, in the standards to which we hold ourselves. We rise each day, and set out to do the same thing. Love our family, work an honest job, be happy. I set out each morning to paint the same painting in this series. I mixed the paints to the same hue, used identical water to paint ratios on the same paper. They are as different as days, and I had nothing to do with that. This is what these paintings became. My kids and I have seen a flatline in a hospital as their father and the man I'd once been married to died, and have come to understand both the lines and endlessness of love. We have come close to it in our own bodies, in recent weeks, in recent years. We have learned some losses stay lost, some holes unfilled. You learn to not step through. The mountains surround the village I’m in. They stop the sky. On November 15 they and the length of the fjord stop the sun for two and a half months. Everytime I look up at where their peaks and the clouds merge, there is always a line that is not quite a horizon, but something more. There is joy, or at the very least hope, in that, somehow. *Part two of this statement Aurora Borealis is on the "Writing" page of this site...
My eyes are blue, blue as the Norwegian and North Seas that flow through and around the fjords of my paternal grandparents' homeland. When I walk under Nordic skies, my eyes match. Norwegian is 50% of my genetic code, but hard memories are tethered to this, infiltrating, and at times leveling me every. single. time I hear the words Norway or Nordic or Norwegian.
Linear time and space fold on themselves with things like this. But percentages and statistics? I re-distribute the weight. 50% of something can mean less than 5% of what matters. I have two kids and love them more than 5,000 other people put together. So. Overlay. Ovary. Ostensibly.
How do we tell the stories of ourselves. Hard stop. I've decided one of the reasons I became a writer must be because I get to pick and choose the words, write and re-right my narrative. Painter, I find the color and steer the shapes. Musician, I string the notes. I do that. It's not done to me.
My maternal great great grandmother was Portuguese, trickling the inlet of geography and genealogy to 6.25% coursing through my blood count, cell memory, epigenetics.
Beautiful truths are bigger than the ugly ones, regardless of percentages. They radiate and endure and spill light. They just do.
And so out here in central southern Portugal where the sky slams into the hills and the grasses lean into the wind—Out here where the horizon line at sunrise and sunset is backlit by the tiniest sliver of blue bridging land and sky—Out here where some small percent of me resonates and aligns and has shared dna with people I pass in the center of town, along the cobbled winding streets, people who smile and make eye contact every. single. time—And so out here where my blue Nordic eyes see across the valley of olive and eucalyptus tree groves and I imagine the Atlantic on the other side—
The sentences finish themselves.
Constancy. Nowhere, really, except the line of earth dividing color and pattern, off in the distance, the horizon a gesture exchanged between land and sky. Trust the line I think, it is here, now, it always is itself, some sort of scaffolding holding the world together. But: every minute could be the last minute I see you. This is also my truth, the broken line and in-between space rooted between remembering and forgetting, between then and tomorrow. I used to know. Now, the horizon is a string to pull and unravel the sky. I'm waiting.
Today the November storms crept in overhead, gray plumes buffering light, and swirling winds pushing birds and clothesline laundry up then down then up again. Branches remember how to bend and not break, how to hold leaves and swinging children, curve into the weight, straighten. I hike up and down hills to watch them bat about and remember this.
Long grasses rub my legs, and the muted sky blurs the sightline with drizzle and fog. I'm trying to trust the line I'm walking. Most days it feels like stepping across a suspension bridge swaying over parts that dropped away, one minute here attached to the lives of me and my kids, the next minute free falling to the bottom of the canyon of a seemingly ordinary day.
Up ahead two horses stand stockstill against the wind in the middle of a pasture, their manes and tails blown in the direction of the grass. Wild geraniums. Stray dogs. Roosters and sheep bells. Fragments of blue up ahead, sightline remains. Home is here, home is now, silhouetting the silence to repurpose all the ways we thought this life would go. Every beloved named thing is an astonishment.