photo credit: Melina Shields

Meet Vern: the not very successful nose and watch salesman in the cast of Geppetto's Junkyard production, "Melenka and the City of Monsters", written by Hannah Bochart. His head is made from a squared gourd, his fabulous wardrobe assembled from my fabulous stash. Seriously, how could you not love this guy?

  “Weirdism is definitely the cornerstone of many an artist's career.” E.A. Bucchianeri,  

True confession: I’ve got a thing for monsters. Not humans behaving in ways we consider monstrous, of course! More like figments of the magical side of my imagination. In the beginning, thirty-some years ago, on a lonesome beach somewhere in Washington State, I picked up a piece of driftwood with the untried yet unstoppable need to carve. Following an instinct I didn’t know I had, I hacked out monster faces down it’s knobby length with my first carving tool, a Swiss army knife. I planted it in my garden to ward off slugs. My monsters were protective creatures from the get go.  

Then there was the Medicine Doll class I participated in with the amazing healing artist and teacher, Barb Kobe. At the start of this profound yearlong course, we were to create a guardian angel to watch over us, ground us through the intensely emotional journey we were about to embark on. I intuitively made a guardian monster.   

Gabrielle, my guardian monster. Manzanita root, apoxysculpt, fake fur, found objects.

Some years ago my face was smashed in a car accident giving me two black eyes, a slightly broken nose and a temporarily disfigured face. I woke up the next day, looked in the mirror and saw, yes, a monster. But this monster was me. It was stunning, life changing. Permission to be ugly! Permission to be real! Permission to let go of our collective illusion of beauty! 

I love witnessing my monsters emerge from the spruce knots and manzanita roots I favor, (along with the occasional rogue gourd). I love coming to understand who they are, what they have to say, through the process of making their hands, their feet, the shape and form of their bodies. Layer by layer learning their nature through skin, fur, costume. In my universe monsters are funny, brave, compassionate and beautiful.

...and that day Big Al came to play

Currently I am in the throws of creating a body of work for an exhibition tentatively titled Beautiful Monsters. See what I mean? I’ve got a definite thing going on.

  “To me, all creativity is magic. Ideas start out in the empty void of your head - and they end up as a material thing, like a book you can hold in your hand. That is the magical process. It's an alchemical thing. Yes, we do get the gold out of it but that's not the most important thing. It's the work itself.” Alan Moore