I have been a huge fan of Kim Richardson for a long time now. I’m entranced by her use of symbolism and the intimate nature of her work. She zeros in on an spiritual level that I’m always striving for with my own work.

What are your main inspirations in art?

I’m inspired by living, people, animals, nature, interaction, interconnectedness, solitary, spirit. Life. I take it all in, filter it through my being and imagery emerges. I’ve always been deeply moved by gut level art. Ceremonial masks and shamanistic pieces hold me closely. The Surrealist fascination with the unconscious has always held great appeal for me. I’m a soul diver, for sure. I’ve been compared to Chagall, Kahlo, both who’s work I adore– even De Chirico at one point which I found bizarre– but it’s funny because we’re all Cancerian. I didn’t know about the women Surrealists when I was younger. I find Leonora Carrington and Leonor Fini especially inspiring. I’m currently reading The Genres and Genders of Surrealism. I fantasize about lunch and conversation with Carrington before she dies.

What is your art background? (education, experience, etc)

I went to a visual and performing arts high school in St. Louis where I majored in visual art and minored in dance. It wasn’t the best academically, but I learned how to draw. It was basically long, tedious exercises in learning how to see. The school was poorly funded and painting wasn’t offered. Mostly drawing with some collage and linocut projects. I absolutely loved collage and focused much of my time outside of school on collage and writing. I checked out any book at the school library about the surrealists who I felt an affinity with. I found Carl Jung. I argued with a friend about her guru. I had crippling anxiety attacks for about a year. I had a healing vision of light that tamed the anxiety and awakened something in me. These were the seeds.

After high school, I took a couple of figure drawing classes at a local community college. I grew bored quickly there and strayed from the instructor’s teaching. I focused less on the body as a whole and more on segments… the feet, for instance, or the belly or ass. Encouraged by my instructor, I left St. Louis for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Discouraged by my unbridled insecurity, I left the art institute after the first semester.

I hung out with poets mostly in Chicago at that point, which I feel was the beginning of my real education. I became pregnant with my first child and started to paint for the first time. I had some old oil paint someone gave to me. We lived near a furniture store that had cardboard boxes in the alley. I tore the boxes apart and obsessively painted cocoon-headed woman after cocoon-headed woman.

My housemate had a girlfriend who painted with beeswax. He gifted me with a chunk of it and taught me how to use the wax with paint. I stuck with this method for the next seven years.

In the late 90’s I fell in love with a painter in St. Louis, worked as an art framer and was taking an opiate painkiller for some dental work. I hadn’t been focusing much on painting at the time. In the sort of opiate and new love induced euphoria, I found some old garden fences, picked up a brush and left out the wax. I quit my framing job and started painting on a regular basis. I’m absolutely enthusiastic about what I do now. An old piece of wood laying in some alley is heaven to me. Tomorrow? Who knows? I perpetually crave new experience. I think of living as a great work of art. Life experience has truly been the greatest teacher.

(my first painting on fence)

What is the single most important thing you want to communicate with your work?
That’s a tough question because I don’t directly think about what I’m painting. Mood, feeling, the unknown.

What are your career goals?
To live comfortably and make art.

What one object has been the most instrumental in helping you achieve
what you have so far?

The internet. I’ve encountered many incredible people and opportunities and have learned so much through it. It’s been a tool of huge growth for me.

Tell me three random things about you.

1. I secretly want to be a cabaret performer.
2. Listening to the birds in the wee hours makes me happy.
3. I’m not comfortable using the words “I” and “me” and “my” so much. 🙂