My mural for the entryway of Magenta Theater features one of the most easily recognizable scenes from one of the most iconic musicals of all time—Singin’ In The Rain. I chose this classic musical for the theme of my mural design for multiple reasons. For one, it is one of the most instantly recognizable productions, even to people who have never even seen it. I love how this inviting image has the potential to engage people who may never have considered themselves “theater-goers” or even possibly been to a live show before.
I also designed this artwork to cleverly utilize one of the existing lights as a design element, adding a touch of whimsy and an ingenious talking point to help draw people in and perhaps encourage them to take a closer look. The “rain” element within the design is also a very fitting motif for a theater located in the Pacific Northwest, and the color scheme I chose is deliberately based around Magenta Theater’s current logo. Additionally, the musical bars featured are actually the first few melody lines of the titular song.
Finally, for those that are unfamiliar with the plot of Singin’ In The Rain, this musical centers around the trials and tribulations that the film stars face as silent films are adapted into “talkies” in 1920s Hollywood. It is about the resilience of the arts and artists learning to adapt to the changing times, a theme which I think is poignantly relevant to this day. Artists of any kind must always be on their toes, willing to adapt to new ways of pursuing their craft and finding innovative ways to keep the arts alive in an ever-changing world.
This mural was commissioned through a public Call To Artists. My design submission won the contract for the creation of this mural at the discretion of the Director and Artistic Director of Magenta Theater, a long-standing business located on Main Street in the heart of downtown Vancouver, WA.
Father, Daughter, Unholy Ghosts
oil, acrylic, and charcoal on canvas, 40×30″
This piece is about generational trauma and is a redemptive narrative about my Eastern European roots. The embroidery motif is similar to that within The Call Of The Void, and is inspired by traditional Baltic folk embroidery. Serpents are symbols of immortality and rebirth, transformation and healing– each time they shed their skin they are reborn into a new version of themselves. There are also several Catholic references as that is a factor within the larger story of this piece.
The Call Of The Void
oil and acrylic on canvas, 36×36″
“L’appel du vide” is a French phrase which translates to “the call of the void.” It refers to the urge to engage in destructive behaviors in everyday life; that inexplicable feeling of being drawn like a siren’s call to things that you know are dangerous or bad for you. I read somewhere that everyone sometimes has urges like this– the urge to swerve into oncoming traffic while driving being an oft-cited example. This piece for me is about being drawn to things that I know will destroy me, but also trying to resist their seeming eventuality and reckoning with the roots of where exactly that siren’s call is coming from. The cigarette is a surface-level representation of that, and additional symbolism in this piece includes the scarification of the anemone flower (which I’ve referenced in other pieces) and the embroidery on the leg. The motif is inspired by Baltic folk embroidery, and is representative of generational trauma.
Emotional Processing I & II / A Collection
Emotional Processing I
alcohol ink & permanent ink on yupo paper, 14×11″
These sister Collections each consist of a series of ten portraits; every one totally unique and featuring a tiny phrase tucked into the composition that expresses a different snippet of thought. The process of these pieces is just as important to me as the finished artwork. Each one starts with a contour drawing in permanent ink, straight onto the *fancy* paper. No pencil drawing, no erasures– just immediately permanent, bold black lines. It’s a moving meditation to describe the contours, and any perceived “mistakes” must be either absorbed into the drawing or accepted in their imperfection.
The Japanese concept of “wabi-sabi” is centered on finding acceptance in imperfection and transience. And working with alcohol inks demands as much of a wabi-sabi attitude as permanent ink– they are fluid and fun to work with but also have an element of unpredictability. Sometimes this results in the ink not behaving how you wanted it to; and sometimes it results in luscious blooms or delicate mixes of colors that turned out better than any preconceived notion.
Each of these pieces is a moving meditation that demands my full attention. But they also demand that I hold my focus loosely to let the creative magic happen.
As a recovering perfectionist and control freak, this sort of wabi-sabi acceptance of imperfection and transience is so good for me– creatively and emotionally. Each piece has a different snippet of thought embedded in it; sometimes they are deep and sometimes they are irreverent. I have a running collection of such thoughts both in my sketchbook and around my studio on sticky notes, and the decision of which one to pair with each piece is something I meditate upon while I’m painting it.
These pieces are truly one-of-a-kind; I will not be offering prints. Please inquire through my Contact page as to which pieces are currently available.
Emotional Processing II
alcohol ink & permanent ink on yupo paper, 14×11″
A Stitch In Time Saves Nine
oil and acrylic on canvas, 12×12″
The title of this piece refers to a common proverb that means if you sort a problem out immediately, it will save you a lot of extra work in the long run. This adage resonates with me in terms of unresolved trauma and how it can manifest years later in unexpected and potentially harmful ways. Tattoos are a recurring motif in my work as this sort of socially-acceptable means of self-harm/physical catharsis, and this embroidery imagery is a progression of that theme.
Sharp Objects, oil and acrylic on canvas, 8×8″
Sharp Objects is a vanitas-inspired still life of “women’s weapons;” sewing scissors with a needle and spool of thread.
Hold Fast, oil and acrylic on canvas, 8×8″
Hold Fast is a companion piece to my painting “All The Things I Never Want To Talk About” done in tattoo script with trompe l’oeil “embroidery” lettering. The phrase “hold fast” was an original sailor tattoo inspiring sailors to hold tight to the ship’s rigging in order to weather a storm– a metaphor for holding fast to your principles throughout the tribulations and storms of life.
Anemones I & II, oil and acrylic on canvas, 8×8″
Anemone means “daughter of the wind,” and in Greek mythology the flower sprang from Aphrodite’s tears as she mourned the death of her lover, Adonis. The flowers are often a symbol of anticipation of things to come and protection against ill wishes, and they can also symbolize forsaken love.
This privately commissioned interior mural features a curvilinear silhouette of a serene, seated woman with a gorgeous, flowering tree growing from her head. Within her tree, there is a progression from bare branches to buds, leaves unfurling to a verdant canopy, and flower buds blossoming into larger-than-life blooms. Within the branches are a caterpillar and chrysalis, and as the branch imagery progresses, so does the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into a kaleidoscope of unique and colorful butterflies. The client wanted a mural that represented their brand’s commitment to celebrating individual beauty and empowering women to feel confident in their own skin and personal style. My artistic inspiration also came from a quote by famous French-Cuban writer Anais Nin, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
The Transfiguration of Anger
oil and acrylic on canvas, 24×18″
Water quenching fire, the oppositional movement of smoke rising versus water dripping, serenity and fluidity extinguishing the smoldering embers of deep anger. This painting plays with the dualism of both elements and emotions, blurring the lines between the figurative and the surreal.
A Woman’s Enlightenment
oil on canvas, 20×30″
This is a commissioned painting representing one woman’s continuing journey toward enlightenment. Featuring many Buddhist symbols including the bodhi tree, lotus flower, pearl, third eye, and multiple mudras– as well as a nod to the patron’s maternal lineage with the portrait likenesses of her mother and herself. This painting also includes a famous quote by the Buddha, written in Nepali at the bottom of the composition: “Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”
All The Things I Never Want To Talk About
oil & acrylic on canvas, 30×24″
A vanitas-inspired portrait that revolves around the traumas that we all carry. Traditional vanitas paintings are full of symbolic objects that represent the transience of life, the futility of pleasure, and the certainty of death. This painting is rife with symbols of many of the types of trauma that people carry –big traumas, smaller traumas, and those that fit somewhere in between.
oil on canvas, 36×24″
A moody dreamscape of a mermaid, relaxing in a bathtub washed up on the Oregon coast. Mermaids are traditionally symbols of the sacred feminine and sensuality. They also represent awareness, insight, and being in tune with creation and the universe. For myself as a Pisces, this painting represents connection to my creativity and other-worldliness– I often feel like a “fish out of water” but have ultimately made peace with that feeling. The Oregon coast is also one of my favorite places of spiritual rejuvenation, especially Manzanita Beach as pictured in this painting.
In designing this mural, I thought about what most often brings different people together: food and a sense of community. Sometimes that community is family and friends, and sometimes it’s simply a gathering of people where you feel welcomed –and more often than not, food is at the center of that gathering. Food is often a gateway to experiencing and appreciating new cultures, simultaneously expanding the palate with new flavors and broadening the mind to different customs and ways of life. In many cultures, women are traditionally the ones who prepare the food and gather people together. My mural features a group of six women –each representing a different international cultural group– gathered together in joyous celebration and unity. From their crowns grows a lush and diverse garden of flowers and edible plants; each woman sprouting a few staple plants from her native region and cuisine. The phrase “There is Room For All To Bloom” sprawls across the left section of the mural, reminding us all that just as one flower’s bloom does not diminish the beauty of the other flowers in the garden, so the unique heritage and celebration of diverse international culture does not diminish our unity as a community.
As I researched which plants were important to include and considered how I was going to place them within the mural, I realized amazingly that there are many plants and diet staples that cross cultural lines. Rice, peppers, beans, garlic, cilantro– just to name a few– are found in multiple ethnic cuisines. So, I tried to place the foods that overlapped cultures as transitions between the different women. Starting at the left, there is an Eastern European woman with cabbage, onion, amaranth, potato flowers, and sorrel. Next is a Native American woman with beans, a sunflower, and corn. The corn transitions into the Hispanic woman with a marigold, agave plant, cilantro, and peppers. The cilantro and peppers help transition to the Asian woman who also features rice, a lotus blossom, and garlic. The garlic transitions to olives, parsley, a pomegranate flower, lemons, and ginger growing abundantly from the crown of the Middle Eastern woman. Following the ginger is the African woman sprouting the beautiful king protea flower, along with okra and collard greens. All of this delicious bounty goes to show that even when it comes to food, we can always find something in common with another human being who maybe looks different from us or comes from a different cultural background.
oil and conte on canvas, 24×18″
A follow-up piece of sorts to my Not Your Madonna painting, this piece further explores the imagery of the open palm with the delicate origami crane. It examines the idea of the selves we show to the world versus our authentic selves and what it means for a 2-dimensional object to masquerade as a 3-dimensional one. It explores the interplay –as referred to in psychology– of our Shadow Self, our Ego Self, and our Authentic Self, and how these layers of Self also relate to Trauma (which additionally has layers of definition in the psychology world). The background text features a poem I wrote also centered on this theme.
chalk pastel on paper, 16×20″
This piece is about passion and the intense, heart-opening power of raw emotion. The original inspiration of a lightning storm in the background is morphed into a Rorschach-esque fantasy world, and the lightning bolts connect with several chakras on the woman in half-camel pose– simultaneously a backbend and heart-opening asana. In creating this piece I was heavily influenced by personal emotional experiences and the need to transcribe a feeling I struggle to put into words. It’s also somewhat influenced by the song of the same title by U2, which captures the same transcendent emotional experience, in my opinion.
oil on canvas, 30×20″
Celebrating the beauty of nature and the meaning of home, this is a commissioned painting of an osprey lifting off from a nesting platform over the waterways of Osprey, FL. The original is in a private collection but fine art prints are available for purchase.
Not Your Madonna
oil on canvas, 20×30″
Drawing from Catholic and Hindu religious imagery and symbols –as well as some personal themes– this piece is about motherhood and female identity. I explore how religious and cultural ideas of purity, fertility, sensuality, sacrifice, and the primal instincts of motherhood coalesce and transform. Mothers often joke about needing an extra arm or hand, or having eyes in the back of their heads; but at what point do these amusing jokes take a sinister turn with the heavy expectations that societies place on the mother figure and all she must be capable of doing?
oil on canvas, 16×12″
When we repress things or bury them within ourselves, they take root. In time, these seeds of discontent will always find a way to push to the surface, seeking the light. You can never be sure what or where the seeds will sow, the only surety is that nothing stays buried forever.
Stay In Your Lane
oil on canvas, 36×24″
So many times, in so many ways, women are told to stay in the lanes that society has doled out for them. The woman in this painting is like a fierce, untamed animal caught in the headlights of society’s judgement. Only she refuses to contort herself into the many molds and constructs that others have tried to force upon her, and the energy of her dissent is palpable and electric.
oil on canvas, 24×48″
The nude female form has always been a classic and iconic subject for artists, as has the historic and symbolic trove of Greek and Roman mythology. My take on Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of Love, is a modern and sensual tribute to this compelling goddess of both affection and eroticism.
oil on canvas, 20×30″
A subtle nod to Shakespeare’s character, Ophelia. However, instead of being driven to insanity and consequently drowning herself out of despair, my version of Ophelia imagines a different, more empowered outcome. In my version, she seeks refuge in the very waters that could drown her, and instead of succumbing to her worst impulses, she finds the emotional resilience within her own self to move forward and find peace.
Salt To The Sea
oil on canvas, 24×20″
That feeling you get as your feet sink further and further into the sand, the cold waves of the Pacific rushing at you on an endless loop. It’s a very grounding and harmonious feeling, and makes me feel at one with the vastness of the ocean. We are all bodies of earthly elements that will one day be returned to the sand and sea; the salt of our bodies mixing with the salt of the ocean.
oil on canvas, 36×24″
The quintessential view of Neah-Kah-Nie Mountain, as seen from Manzanita beach on the beautiful and scenic Oregon Coast. Feel serenity wash over your soul as you gaze into the softly rolling ocean waves, and all your troubles evaporate into the slowly drifting clouds of a summer’s day. Manzanita holds countless treasured memories and will forever be a special place close to my heart.
Magnolias In Bloom
oil on canvas, 24×36″
Celebrate the fleeting beauty of spring with an intricate look at the gorgeous blossoms on a magnolia tree, commonly referred to as a “tulip tree.”
oil on canvas, 20×16″
An ode to the bounty of fall with gloriously-hued pumpkins gathered in a rustic farm cart.
oil on canvas, 12×16″
Memento Mori is a Latin phrase meaning “remember you must die.” In classic still life paintings, skulls served as a symbol of death and encouraged viewers to meditate on their own mortality and reflect upon the life they’ve lived.
All images copyright of the Artist.