A writer once asked me why I prefer to make work that is ephemeral. This question swirls around my head while I work in the field as the wind picks up or when I arrive only to find that rain has taken down a certain section of the wall. I initially I answer, because life is ephemeral and I realize that this is way too easy of an answer. It is in the continuous tearing down and the building up of material, the additive and reductive elements so prevalent in traditional art, that I start to understand the nature of what it means to be ephemeral.

Making art that may not last takes the emphasis off of the final product and puts a highlight on process. It allows the invisible element of time to be visible in the most fundamental way. We witness, even experience, change. Perhaps my art mimicks what I see in the farms surrounding me in New England as they fall in disrepair.

Penelope's visits

One of the benefits of working on a project this large is enjoying the people who come to visit while I am weaving. They sit with me in November’s parsimonious sun, the sounds of roosters crowing mixed in with their conversation. Some school children will visit during recess and make precious and insightful comments.

More common are the hours that I am by myself with my own thoughts for company. It is here in the rhythm of weaving raw wool that my mind wanders between the internal contemplation of solutions to world’s problems and the simple awe of geese migrating overhead.

Somewhere in the middle of these two extremes is when I receive a special visitor; Homer’s tragic character, and Odysseus’ faithful wife Penelope, will sit with me as I weave, quietly at first. But soon my mind fills with questions. What was Homer trying to say through you? You have diligence of process with no concern for the outcome. Where does your hope and that ever- elusive patience come from? As an artist who unweaves her work every night you must be tired. The very image of you is both filled with energy and entropy. The building up and the tearing down, all for the result you are so sure of.

I realize I am asking myself these questions. When I look across my work that the wind and rain are disassembling I am torn between reweaving the wool or allowing the environmental deconstruction. It challenges me. It both visually fills me with energy and tires me when I think of the ephemeral nature of my work.

Perhaps it is Penelope under the darkness of night unweaving my hard work of the day. Perhaps she is teaching me faithfulness of my art, faithfulness to process and then ultimately faithfulness to life, for this is my life’s work.

what you think about when you spend hours in a field day after day


Landscape painters are known to go back to a certain village wall, or scenic viewpoint and paint in different lights, and a variety of times of year. After a decade of periodic interpretation the work can document a change in viewpoint, skill or emphasis. You could say that this one sheep pasture at the Hartsbrook School in Hadley Massachusetts is where my eye and heart is drawn to for my artistic expression. This is my third sculptural event in the fold in as many years.


My father once asked me, "Why don't you paint a nice picture of a fly fisherman in a stream"? This is a legitimate question from my New England father. Painting something he knows and is familiar with is actually what I am doing, just not with oil and mineral. I get to put myself inside that pastoral “painting” everyday as I work in most weather, my fingers freezing in the morning frost and snagging on the wire. My jacket picks up the smell of lanolin, and I hear the chickens screech at the hawk up in the oak tree. Over the hillock to my left I can see the heads of horses as they kick and gallop in this November chill. A cow bellows from one of the three surrounding farms. I can hear the wind singing through the chicken wire and at once I am both on a mountain top and on a sailboat. The other day I even heard a mouse family in the field calling to each other. I get to witness the sun and clouds change the grey November landscape, at first indiscernibly, and now after ten days, it is magnified and dramatic to my learned eye.

Not only do I get to experience this sensory “painting”, but my viewers do as well. As a sculptural event where viewers are asked to participate in the building of this pasture wall, they too get to sense the atmospheric changes, feel the texture of the wool and stop to listen to the hillside cows. It is as much a part of my work as the finished sculpture.