Six years ago I became involved with a group of Burmese refugee women who were new to the San Francisco Bay area. These young women fled war and persecution arriving alone with little more than the clothes on their backs and stories of hope and survival. Inspired by their journeys, I began working as a refugee advocate providing hospitality and support to newly arrived refugees. The emotional challenge of this work was significant. I found painting a critical tool to remain balanced, stay energized and find joy in this space.
I spent my early professional years creating detailed visualizations that stressed subject more than form. The aim of the art was always to elucidate or decorate complex information and create accurate representations of the physical world. I’ve found that at this time in my life I am more interested in finding alternative ways to describe the visual experience….
I reflect on the mood I want to convey or the story that needs to be told. I then spend a whole lot of time trying to listen to my unconscious and then draw up the feelings—color by color—until something beautiful appears (hopefully). Acrylics have become my favorite medium. I delight in the process of putting the paint to canvas and seeing it dry within hours.
I’ve found that my art has become mostly non-objective but sometimes skirts the edge of the representational world. Color is always the starting point and inspiration. I love to experiment with the size of the canvas and play with texture, movement and saturation of the paint. I am at my best when the design and light of a room can also be used as tools for creative expression.
My refugee friends continue to be a source of motivation. Their stories challenge me daily to expand myself creatively, spiritually and intellectually. They continue to broaden my understanding of the world and its interconnectedness.