Since childhood, I've explored outside the boundaries of culture. I needed to learn about different kinds of lives. Backpacking and living in diverse lands, I witnessed caring, supportive interactions. I also witnessed suspicion, prejudice, and scorn. Making totems is my way of building tolerance and respect between people.
From the day I carried a tall industrial-cardboard tube into my studio, totems have come into being, unbidden. I gather scraps saved from travels, discarded odds and ends from various places, recycled fiber, rust, and found objects. I stitch and glue, hammer, twist wire, and physically rework textiles. Different sizes and shapes of totems evolve as if from faraway planets, yet they're like people on earth, distinctive in expression and energy. They might seem strange, funny, or disturbing - "not like us" - but they are part of a community.
In addition to totems, I make collages, combining recycled paper with textured threads that remind me of connections between people. The hand-sized collages are glimpses of communal life and ethnic identity. I also create Street Children, small textile and rust garments that draw attention to at-risk children worldwide.
I hope my work encourages reflection about race, gender, custom, conquest - and peace.