Bones hold a deeply sacred meaning . The sacrum is the most sacred of all bones . It makes the perfect mask in the way the holes line up with the eyes on a human face . I am drawn to these dark spaces that pull me in . Being the youngest in a large family , I was often on my own to sort out my thoughts . Creativity was a risk . I had to mask any impulse to express myself through art . So my use of jaw bone is also symbolic , as it gives me a voice that has been muted for most of my life .
I long to celebrate the purity and honesty found in bones elegant configurations that form the foundation of all human and animal existence . My work shines light on that which is typically discarded , buried , or burned , bringing back into form that which longs to be reincarnated and beheld .
Your choice of medium is quite unique and your ability to work with such a medium is outstanding . How did you get started as an artist and how long have you been creating bone art ?
I have never had any formal training as an artist . In my thirties , I began to read about Native American culture and went on a bit of a spiritual quest . I began to look at my surroundings and my relationship with nature in a new way . I was always curious about the fractals in natural objects , and eventually I tried to capture them in abstract photography . This progression led to an ever increasing interest in 3D . I painted , sculpted clay , and then I began to carve wood . At the onset of winter , I would close up my landscaping business and begin to explore . I started to collect bones until it seemed like an obsession . One day , while examining how pieces of bone fit together , I invented “ Ghost Dancers ”. I ’ d transformed tiny muskrat jawbones into what looked like three ghosts dancing on a boomarang .
Eventually , I put the bones aside and began to work with metal . I took some classes and learned the basics . Complex metallurgy seemed to come naturally to me ; I don ’ t why . I developed a line of metal jewelry , and I really thought I was destined to be a metal smith . Along the way , I developed a design for a mixed metal Navajo Yei mask . When I held one of the masks up to a deer jaw bone , I knew I had stumbled onto something unique . It was something that satisfied my passion for minute details , my interest in fractals , and my love of form . It was both enchanting and symbolic , and I have been refining that mixed media concept ever since .
You mentioned that your voice has been muted for most of your life . How has creativity given you back your voice ?
As a young child , I loved to draw . One day I showed a picture to my mother , and she took away all my pencils and crayons . Later I learned I had been a victim of abuse by a family member , and the drawing was likely an expression of what had been happening to me . I was too