What is the first thing that you think or do when you wake up in the morning?
“I look outside, and I notice the weather and change in things. I notice what is blooming and what is new. I go down to make my coffee and right outside our kitchen window I watch the bird feeder for all the different shapes, sizes, colors and bird calls. The cardinals always come in pairs to our feeder. The male will come and bring food to the female on the ground. Mates for life, it is romantic and sweet to behold. This quietness has allowed us to listen with our eyes…I was weeding a particular area of the garden recently and it has all come back…nature has a life of its own and is so persistent.”
What made you want to participate in this exhibition?
“I was really grateful to be offered the opportunity to meditate on flowers.”
“Quang and I bought a home in Pennsylvania built in 1764, on three acres of heavily landscaped land. The former owner was a master gardener. We moved in in the fall of 2017 and when spring came all these flowers came forth. It was almost overwhelming. As soon as we moved in, we got this sense that we were just stewards of this beautiful place. We are slowly learning about how to care for these flowers.
It has been a gift for us to be locked down in this place in particular. We have been forced to watch the beauty very closely. You see how beautiful it is and how vicious, as you see the circle of life. Two red tailed hawks live in the woods right behind our house, watching birds has been a huge part of this for us…This show is so apropos, especially for us. We have really just been loving our time with our flowers.”
“I enjoyed cutting the flowers from our yard, playing with the light and setting up these bouquets. It has been amazing to meditate on these flowers and consider the subject matter content wise and symbolically—the role the flowers play in the cycle of life and that they become part of the life giving process for bees and butterflies as they spread their pollen.”
What makes you whole?
“I feel most whole when I feel connected to my work in the world and to those around me. When I feel the loving connection between myself and what I am making it feels divine to me. I feel like I was meant to… The outside perception is that things must be easy and wonderful to do what you love every day, but it is easy to lose the sense of why you make art in the first place.”
Was there a pivotal moment or experience in your life when you decided to pursue art as a career?
“I have always wanted to be an artist since childhood. It was the only thing I ever did where I had razor sharp natural focus and loved it with my whole heart and was willing to pursue mastery. I have been drawing and painting since a child. I started my classical training early at 11. I had an early start with A, the yearning and B, the training to make art.”
Do you have any personal reflection you would like to share about life in “quarantine,” or how you have experienced recent times as an artist?
“This time has offered a gift to really slow down and watch spring emerge in the Northeast where we live. It’s been an incredibly special time that I know we wouldn’t have otherwise had. We have endured the hardships of this pandemic in the passing of two very close to us. Humanity is reevaluating itself and considering the path forward together. This time offers a chance for us to look inside and reevaluate our schedules and lives to really enjoy more and observe more, I think.”
Could you tell me about your relationship with the medium you are using to paint flowers for this exhibition?
“I think oil paint is so lustrous and so sumptuous in its texture and its expressive quality. I think it is the best medium particularly to depict flowers. It is a great opportunity to explore how to create petals folding into space, disappearing into shadows and emerging into the light. I have been learning so much and these flowers feel like they have taken on a different spirit. I am letting the paint express a little bit more and leaving some passages be more painterly than they have been in the past.”
What is a flower?
“The potential held inside flowers is so beautiful. Not only are they beautiful on a visual and superficial level…what they are in nature and the role that they play is crucial for bringing life forward. And often fruit, plants that are classified as fruit bearing, always begin with a flower. I was remarking to Quang that our big magnolia tree in our front yard was incredible this year—it bloomed with thousands of blooms. I remember watching it bud and open up a little bit more every day. It is right outside our bedroom window, so we had front row seats…the potential and energy in those flowers are the manifestation of the unseen. Like miracles, really. I couldn’t believe that in one branch of that magnolia there was all this potential to yield such lush and healthy flowers.”