This series functions as a symbolic self-portrait. It combines compositional elements and motifs from my polish heritage with Michigan’s native flora and fauna. The symmetrical compositions are inspired by polish headscarves or babushkas. The work rebels against established traditions of painting by utilizing embroidery, and beadwork. Interweaving craft with painting and showing the work in a gallery space challenges established perceptions of the materials and places a higher value on craft. This theme of collage extends further to the cultural and spiritual aspects of my work through symbolism and polish diaspora.
Flowers, snakes, spiders, and moths all have symbolic ties to femininity as well as having ominous mythology attached to them. Additionally, the work is inspired by women’s fashion and watching my mother make jewelry. By showing ornate, beaded fauna, alongside floral elements that are drawn from their natural habitats; the viewer is pushed to see this wildlife as valuable, and reconsider connections between domestic decorative arts and traditional painting.
The form, subject matter, and materials are rooted in history but these elements are combined in a contemporary way that is emblematic of the time, place, and culture that I live in. The series also provides a window into Michigan’s ecosystem. In addition to influencing viewers to appreciate and connect with their local environment, it encourages them to rethink their perceptions of craft, painting, and the natural world.