I am the recipient of the 2014 Crafthaus Project Grant.

I didn't achieve this alone, though....many, many incredible people -- maybe YOU! -- believed in the project I am curating, an exhibition that focusses on invisible disabilities. All votes were much appreciated! Invisible:VisAble, a visual art exhibition, features artists who daily face real challenges with grace, positivity and creativity, using the ups and downs to inform art works on paper, fabric, plastic, and other materials, in 2D, 3D and installation format. 

I am a fiber artist working with mixed media in 2D, sculptural and installation format. Using the detritus of society, experimental methods on common materials, 3D printing, and fiber art-based techniques including Free Motion Stitching- a method of “painting” with thread using a sewing machine- I make art works and installations that are meant to challenge viewers visually and tactilely.

Humans are sensory creatures. As artists, it is our obligation to open up new ways of accessing the senses to viewers that happen upon our work by chance, or who choose to experience it on purpose. Most often, we emotionally touch those individuals via their eyes, but sometimes also through the other senses. Social training however, teaches us NOT to touch.

Touch was a big part of my early experience. I had a pale, blue, wool blankie as a baby; the only way I could go to sleep was to begin at one end and roll the satin trim through my tiny thumb and forefinger. Sleep could only come when I reached the other end. When I was two my parents found out I was fully deaf in my right ear and somewhat deaf in the left; this only added to the litany of medical challenges we all faced. I was often in the hospital; my best, early memories were of finger painting in the sunny, hospital art room and the sumptuous sewn and knit doll clothes my mother would bring in that she made for my Barbie and Ken. 

I grew up in Canada, surrounded by nature that rolled, coiled, wove, sprang, twisted, blew, froze and insinuated itself into my being so that I am most at peace even now, when I am away from cities. I often create a Utopian “nature” in which to escape the demands of the frenetic life led today, and make interactive works that physically engage the viewer and invite them to play in my world, a place that exists somewhere between Alice's Wonderland and Little Shop of Horrors.

I hold Master of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts & Bachelor of Education in Art degrees and teach in colleges, arts centers, and in my studio. Most recently, I have been featured in books, Mastering the Art of Embroidery, The Best of America Sculpture and Noplaceness: Art in a Post-Urban Landscape, in numerous mags, blogs and more, and have written about art for ArtsATL, Burnaway and Fiber Art Now magazine, among others. I have pieces in the permanent collections of The Dallas Museum of Art, The Kamm Foundation, The University of North Texas, The University of Texas- Pan American and in private collections and was featured in a PBS artist special.

I hope you'll follow along as I introduce you to the wonderful artists in Invisible:VisAble, as I outline the challenges and achievements as the project moves along toward the show, and view the photos and documentation of the exhibition, outreach events and artist talks that will go along with it. 

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Replies to This Discussion

Sounds fantastic! I have an invisible disability and I like the idea of crafts people sort of indirectly involving their disabilities in their work- I imagine the exhibition will stand up as an exciting body of work without the knowledge of the linking initiative. It will be interesting to see where any common themes or aesthetic choices arise.

Thanks, Billie. I am already excited about what I am seeing coming out of some of the artists...and my own work is really benefitting from the personal connection. Stay tuned!!!


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