I believe everything we do, have done, and ever believed in has influenced our art making.
I was born in Los Angeles in 1952. My mother was a writer of fiction and biography and my father was a cardiologist. We lived in Beverly Hills, California and when I was five my parents built a beautiful, light, and airy, what was not called then but is now, mid-century modern house in the hills. And so I lived an inside/outside existence, with my brother and sister, spending long hours playing happily in the hill in our backyard or swimming in our pool. The three of us went to the University Elementary School, the lab school at UCLA. I loved it there and the developmental learning-by-doing (based on John Dewey’s educational philosophies) education I received made a huge impact on my philosophy of life, education and art. With the normal ups and downs of life, I was very lucky; I had a wonderful childhood with very understanding parents and siblings I played with a lot.
My middle and high school years were more complicated (as is the case with many of us,) when in 7th grade I was thrown into the Beverly Hills public school system and had to make new friends. That was rather a shock. High school was better as there were more students, and with the late 60s upon us, I felt freer to be who I was and to think about who I was, as I transformed from straightening my hair to letting it run wild, thick and curly, and thought a lot about the terrible war we were involved in. I protested with others and wore a black armband to graduation in 1970 along with my classmates to show solidarity with those recently killed at Kent State University.
I grew up with Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Minimalism, Conceptualism, other non-isms, and Ellsworth Kelly’s shapes. The whole mid-century world was my world. I painted my own shapes when I was in high school and put modern French posters on one bedroom wall. I painted moving figures on another bedroom wall a la Matisse. I was very taken with his dancers. Our one-story house was very roomy, uncluttered and minimal, with Eames chairs and painted walls arranged like a Mondrian painting. My mother once pointed this out to me, that they painted it that way to look like a Mondrian. It was beautiful.
I took many things with me from my growing up years and they are all in my work: internal structure, balance, proportion, hope and optimism, the desire to not necessarily go along with the crowd, questioning, stripping away the nonessential to get to the point, getting rid of the clutter to get to the essence, where the real meaning is.
Although I liked to draw, I wasn’t ready to focus on it so in college I did something completely different. In high school I discovered a love for 19th Century Russian Literature and eventually majored in Russian and East European Studies at the University of Michigan, a major I was incredibly happy in. But I also had a long interest in education. I read about the Summerhill School in England and used to dream about having my own school based in the kind of humanistic education I was raised on. Towards the end of my undergraduate career I began to miss art, took some classes and began to draw again. I had always wanted to be a teacher and so I enrolled in the M.A. in Secondary Education program at Stanford University. I began at Stanford in Social Studies but quickly persuaded them to let me do my work in the teaching of art, as I realized that was where I really belonged. My Russian studies has influenced my life in many profound ways, one of which was viewing the world from a non-western perspective, even though I did not make a career of it.
I taught school for five years, at the beginning of which I attended the Feminist Studio Workshop at the Woman’s Building in downtown Los Angeles, got married, had three children, and was a very contented full time mom for many years. Although we took our children to museums exhibitions over the years, I made art and things with them, taught a little, I did not make much of my own art.
It was when our youngest started kindergarten that I decided to take some art classes again, and was where I picked up with the road I am on today.