Let me just say, I have wandered every single inch of this town and the most fun I’ve had with shopping is this Flea Market. It’s a tourist town, but I’m from New York so I don’t want to feel like a tourist shopping around and I also don’t want to barge in on someone else’s culture improperly. I ran into familiar faces who were vendors at the fair and there were all kinds of hidden gems. I walked away with a tiny silver spoon that was a gift from a vendor and a deerskin choker necklace with snake vertebrae.
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So for the rest of the summer, I’ll be living in Taos, New Mexico during my residency at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. I’ve been here about a week and all I can say is that my life has already changed in that short period of time. My health has been bad since past August, which as many of you know has forced me to stop making artwork and exhibiting. Since I arrived, I don’t stop sketching out ideas in my notebook or writing down subjects that interest me about the Spanish and Native cultural influence in the town. I came here with the intention of creating spiritually themed work in performance as well as outdoor sculptures involving papercutting, and I cannot wait to share photos throughout my stay so keep checking back!
As many of you may have seen, my face and my paper appeared in a commercial for Cadillac for their Dare Greatly campaign, first airing during the Oscars broadcast. I cannot even explain how incredibly honored I feel for being chosen to be a part of this- everyone should take the time to read the stories of each person featured. There are amazing people doing amazing things, even at such a young age.
I am amazed that I was able to feature my art, but am especially excited to be able to stand as a heart transplant representative. Even with all the knowledge we have, transplants are still a rare occurrence and I am one of the oldest survivors for a single organ at this date in time. I want to be open about my work and my personal medical experiences- if you have any questions please feel free to ask me!
Click here to view the special page about me and my work on Cadillac’s Dare Greatly website.
Thank you again to everyone at Cadillac! #DareGreatly
Last year, I was contacted by SF MOMA to do a special, site specific installation to hang inside of the newly renovated Square Offices in downtown San Francisco. At first they wanted to know what I had available in inventory, but I had nothing at that moment left to give. Then, I was told about a special wall they had in mind that had an enormous amount of light and extra high ceilings. Obviously I was in love, so within 5 days I cut something special and was ready to install!
Here is the result- materials are handcut sketch paper and gold ink. That’s it! I was inspired by hanging plants and the landscapes in Oakland, CA in terms of imagery.
So a couple months ago, I strolled into LUXE Creative‘s offices to visit my friend Martin and ask for some lighting advice for an exhibit. I walked out with my advice, plus the possibility of a project to create an immense paper flower wall for a wedding. I had never done one before, nor had I ever made a paper flower, but I thought this would be something fun and different to do.
Now, four months later, I finally finished up! LUXE Creative was doing work for the wedding that was planned by Shari Zatman of Perfectly Planned in Pittsburgh. We were set to install at the Heinz History Center. I began work immediately, and looked at a number of patterns other DIY makers had used. I also trusted my Cricut Explore for a little help too- it’s a cutting machine but it also comes with a number of cutting inspiration patterns. In the end, I created my own flower designs that worked for this particular wall. It is also entirely handcut, which is what sets it apart from anything else you’ll find out there. I’ll post those later this week! Let me just say, Martin, his team, and I put in some intense hours during install day. There were many bumps in the road, but I was extra confident and determined to make this the most beautiful thing in the room, well besides the bride of course!
Here it is, standing at 12 ft high x 20 ft long (original designs called for it to be 16 ft high) and over 100 lbs in weight thanks to the amount of paper. It took four months of cutting every single day, except for one week where I ended up slicing a hole through my finger (ugh).
So that’s that! This year has handed me two huge projects and I am so proud to say that no matter what my health threw at me (after install I wasn’t able to walk for a day because of circulatory problems in my legs), I got the job done! I have to thank everyone who helped me along the way, because one person can never handle anything alone. Thanks to everyone, xoxoxoxoxo
On April 24, after 5 months nonstop of papercutting, I opened my biggest show yet called Vascular Caverns at 707 Gallery in Downtown Pittsburgh. The idea was one that I always had with me, so somehow I had to plan out covering a whole entire gallery in entirely handcut paper. I knew I wanted it to be meditative, so I created a cavernous space, and included a smaller, secluded cavern within the gallery that viewers could step inside. It was a huge success and it’s on view for some time. If you are in the Pittsburgh area, come see it! At the end of the exhibit’s time, I will be burning the entire installation during a performance piece- more info to come!
This past week, I opened a show in Oakland, CA for First Fridays. It was so much fun and my first exhibit on the West Coast! I had a bit of help with some of the bigger installation, and for the first time went on scaffolding. Since I’m a short little lady, I was terrified of being so high off the ground. But I did it and everything turned out so perfect. Really, I don’t think I’ve ever had an easier install and it’s all thanks to the awesome, generous people from the gallery. There’s an espresso bar connected, so I suggest to anyone from the area to stop by! The show is at Hat Rac Gallery up from June 6- July 25.
Boys setting up the scaffolding.
Gold and black cutouts going up on the wall. Yes, they’re all handcut!
Today I experienced what some people call the Bone Yard. If you know me or my work, you know that I’m obsessed with bones and all sorts of dark things. My goal while in Wyoming was to find some more bones for sculptures. Needless to say, I found bones. This place was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It’s a dumping ground for taxidermists and hunters, so there was a whole lot to choose from. A lot of pieces weren’t too clean, but I tried to grab some skeletons that were cleaner. I wasn’t even mentally prepared for what followed. First of all, I’m used to cleaning off bones in smaller quantities. These were from cattle, and were as big as me. They weren’t the cleanest, but I thought I could take the bones apart with a saw and then rebuild later. WRONG. The cartilage was so tough that I had to kick, stand on, and pull apart some of the bones. I even ran into a few in tact spinal cords which was far too much for me to handle in one day. I’m never grossed out by these types of things, but the spinal cord gave me an icky feeling. So I kept cleaning what I could, and ended up getting a whole lot of material out of these guys. Unfortunately, I had to throw out a lot of them, too. There was one spine I couldn’t bring myself to throw out, and so to save it from the ranch dogs and other critters, I hung it from a tree. Doesn’t it look like some sort of offering? Things got weird today, as you can see.
How I cleaned my bones: Try to get the cleanest bones possible. No blood, no flesh on it. And as little cartilage as possible. I made a hydrogen peroxide and water mix. Soak for 24 hours (I’m a clean freak) and then a second soak after that in a new mix. No bleach, that messes everything up. No boiling either!
I want to make a note here: I don’t hunt animals. I’m not killing anything to make my sculptures. The bones I use are all FOUND in the environment. I don’t spend money on buying the bones. This is solely a found object deal.
Ok, so for a while I’ve been going pattern crazy with oranges, bananas, palm trees, and other tropical themed guys. I’ve also gone a little nuts making tons of little milagro hands and legs. Besides making them into little sculptures, I wanted to push them out on the world. Most of the images that I print are heavily influenced by Miami and Cuban culture. Living in Pittsburgh, I’m in an environment that is the total opposite of my work. One day when it was snowing I went out and pasted my little oranges onto a fence by my house in Lawrenceville. Everything around me is so gritty, industrial, and absolutely beautiful. I wanted to place my printed guys in the wrong kind of environment, make them seem more out of place. I’ll be going around this week and posting more around town.
Now, I just want to say that these are not permanently installed. I put them up with some tape, take a photo, and then take them down right after. Don’t worry- I’m not tearing up public property with tiny oranges. But, I would love to get these installed anywhere in the city permanently and I’m hoping that’s the next step.
As if I didn’t already express my love for her enough, here’s a post for my ultimate source of inspiration right now: Carmen Miranda. Lately I’ve been wanting to get a lot more into screenprinting and making patterned prints. The goal is to make a few more ladies with headdresses. Of course, I’ve already gone through my orange phase. Next fruit on the list is bananas. Oh, it’s begun. Here are some photos of the progress: