"I dream inside the things I make"

I wrote these words in 1982 as I was building a number of site-specific installations, called The Sanctuary Series (1981-1987). While constructing the first Sanctuary, I became aware of the contrasts in materials I was using: steel, handmade felt and paper, silk, concrete, hemp and wood. The format made even more juxtapositions: room-sized three-dimensional steel rebar grid mounted on wooden flooring and hand-cast concrete forms that supported fragile felt and silk walls, paper shelves and tall wrapped forms housed in translucent alcoves.

I found it startling and inspiring to embark on a long series of dreams that actually took place in the spaces I was working on, in the images I was creating. My recurring themes of vulnerability and resilience emerged at this time. I began exploring dualities and contradictions, linking them to those in the world around me.

My paintings and drawings - my main art focus over the past twenty years - continue where the installations left off. The spaces I create in these two-dimensional works are filled with objects in alcoves and other enclosures through which viewers can metaphorically walk, observe and touch.

The nude, usually female, stripped of the usual trappings and defenses, fills these illusionary spaces. She becomes the core of vulnerability around which the wrapped forms or bundles gather. At times, she finds herself seeking shelter in a cramped alcove, or struggling to find a comfortable position on a pedestal. I use live models for these works, projecting my emotions onto the very poses I ask the models to assume. It is self-portraiture.

I also portray others. My involvement in social issues, both local and global, has led me to meet women who have inspired me with their dedication, passion and resilience. For the past decade, I have been using the encaustic medium to paint some of these people - they have usually overcome great obstacles and now exude great joy or simple beauty. In this way, I explore others' symbols and metaphors just as I have investigated mine.