Below are some of the recent works of art I have created or co-created and have shown publicly.

A star-splattered banner (2010) serving as an homage pulling together the work of two great American artists who were trying to pull art in two different directions: Jackson Pollock and his abstract expressionist action paintings (always a kid favorite!) and Jasper Johns and his concrete images of American flags. This piece was displayed in a couple of locations including a First Thursday event in my neighborhood of Del Ray.

This thirty-six-foot panoramic collage (2010) co-created with my long-time teaching and art collaborator Peggy Ashbrook explores the ecology and evolution of Alexandria’s waterfront communities and the relationship between Alexandria’s natural and built environments, a part of our experience that often is lost for us as we become increasingly urbanized. In taking the viewpoint of the Potomac River and therefore not distinguishing between the importance of historic community institutions built and shaped by Alexandria’s African American and white communities in the neighborhoods along the Potomac’s banks, the collage also tries to prompt us to consider some important social truths about the history and legacies of Alexandria’s experience as the northernmost outpost of Jim Crow segregation. That it hangs prominently in a public space for children, Alexandria City’s Soft Play Room at the Chinquapin Recreation Center, is therefore as an important marker for the continuing evolution of the City of Alexandria itself. Children can see aspects of the art of Romare Bearden in the collaging technique and of the great Mexican muralists like Diego Rivera in the scope and positioning of the work’s different elements. (If you click on this image, it will open as a larger image so you can see more detail.  You can magnify it further by clicking on the image again and see all of it by scrolling left and right. Then use your back button to return to this page.)  Thanks to Taki Sidley for his magic in taking this photograph.

The Whale (2011) was made entirely from driftwood, bottles, and other plastic pulled from the Potomac River by my family as part of their own personal river cleanup and constructed with the help of many family, students, and friends. Since a big part of me is still that young girl growing up at the beach in Florida, this twenty-five foot long mobile raises for me important questions about the state of our rivers and oceans and what we want to inhabit them: the real creatures of the sea or plastic facsimiles. The Whale initially was a temporary installation hung at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Virginia, as part of a fundraiser for Matthew Maury Elementary School, and after the event the church welcomed it for an extended showing that was very much appreciated!

The dragon shown in this video was created collaboratively with my second grade students at Maury Elementary and my Maury Elementary Afterschool Art Club for the 2012 Alexandria City Earth Day “Trashion Fashion Show.” We won first place! The contest required students to use all recycled materials. For this project we used cardboard boxes, Capri Sun drink pouches, compact discs, bed sheets, and bottle caps collected by Angela Venier and UpCycle from the Maury Elementary community. The students learned about the Chinese Lunar New Year tradition of parading through the streets in brightly colored dragons made of bamboo, cloth and paper. In Chinese culture, the dragon is a symbol of spring, and its image has been used in rain ceremonies dating back at least to the Han dynasty (206 BC to AD 220) — quite appropriate for an Earth Day celebration! This project was a lot of fun for me and the students.

After Earth Day the second grade classes got to reprise the Earth Day celebration. We borrowed instruments from Maury music teacher Laura Koss, and the students made the dragon come to life again by parading from one end of Maury to the other banging drums, cymbals, bells, and other percussion instruments. A huge thank-you to our principal Lucretia Jackson for letting us break the normal rules of quiet to help the students learn about this Chinese tradition!

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