It was nothing short of an epiphany. Several years ago, while wandering the wet streets of SoHo, I happened upon an unexpected and yet familiar sight, which stopped me cold.
There, in the window of an unmarked storefront, was an enormous sepia-toned image of a windblown horse. I stood on the sidewalk staring, oblivious to the steady drizzle. I was transfixed. It was this serendipitous discovery of a gallery in SoHo, which featured an entire exhibition of massive, wall-sized horse images that freed me.
Still licking my metaphorical wounds from graduate school, I was floundering artistically. The internal battle between what I wanted to make and what I thought I should be making paralyzed me. Voices of past professors, who had dismissed my chosen imagery as trite and cliché, echoed constantly through my mind. But there, in that gallery, surrounded by the spectacular photos of the Horses of Sable Island, I felt inspired and validated.
Like many young girls, I was obsessed with horses. I dreamed about horses. I drew and painted them. I poured over books dedicated to them. Eventually, my weekly horseback riding lesson evolved into horse ownership. I understood at a young age what a privilege it was to be in the presence of such majestic creatures. Despite countless extracurricular activities and commitments, horses were my priority. Horseback was where I was challenged and comforted, it was the one place I felt myself.
Because I was a member of my university’s rodeo team, I was able to bring my horses to college with me. It was then, during my first official art class, I decided to pursue a degree in art. After graduating with a BFA in Studio Art, I enrolled in the MFA program at the Memphis College of Art. For the first time in 15 years, I was no longer living near my horses. Only in retrospect do I recognize and understand the emotional impact this had on me. My MFA degree was followed by a second masters degree (MAT) and eventual employment in art education. Finally, almost a decade after moving to Memphis, I have been able to fill the horse void. In 2013 I moved my two-year-old colt from my family farm in Arkansas to Tennessee. Daily trips to the stable leave me inspired in a way I haven’t felt in years.
Although I frequently use equine imagery in my work, my creations are not simply just about drawing or painting “pretty ponies.” It is much deeper. Horses have always been my point of entry into the world, a way of framing, questioning, understanding, connecting, and commemorating.
Often varied in style and media, the pieces are unified by subject and theme. Within the work, equine imagery is symbolic and provides the vocabulary and distance necessary to explore deeply personal issues and motifs. My work examines the relationships between memory, family, identity, and loss. The collection, reassembling, and integration of non-traditional materials (i.e. horsehair) with more conventional art mediums and methods aid in the exploration of the continuums between these complex domains. Drawing upon my equestrian past (and present) horse forms and fragments become the language through which these ideas are explored and articulated.