(Born 1984 Dixon, Illinois) I am a synesthete. Due to synesthesia, I see the world in many layers and colours. Sight may mingle with sound, taste with touch. My art expresses the ways I connect with nature and the world around me.
Moving to Norway and surviving auto-immune disease were catalysts in my work. These experiences gave me unique opportunities to study relationships between biology, physiology, psychology, and toxicology. The sciences created a foundation for my work as a movement and meditation instructor and for the patterns emerging over time in my art. I found scientific methods used in recording resonances and terrestrial movements to use in making my artwork. The structures of understanding in science gave me a sense of comfort about my perceptual experiences with synesthesia.
I take long walks to inform my decisions in the art I create. However, two immersions in landscape changed my approach to art; a swim in Ånøya, a black bottomed lake, and the sapphire twilight in Lofoten. These experiences moved me to create art more directly felt with the body. While I still make visual art, my relationship with nature landscapes through synesthesia are focused in utilising performance and textile practices. I work to share my reverence for nature, by bringing forth the senses of a place.
From The (Almost) Beginning
Walking is a splendid act of personal faith. A whole body drawing in concert with terrestrial movements, through space and time. The things closest to us, touched by our own actions and bodies are often the easiest to take for granted. Facing reality affords a deeply transcendental experience through the symphony of senses, before they are translated to language. I went into art as a way to understand nature and present its teachings in reverence and wonder, and came out to understand many beliefs I held about shared experiences were incorrect. Synesthesia was one of the terms that would be ascribed to my human condition; perhaps the only condition I would accept. As I walk through life, I encountered many people who unbeknownst to them (or me at the encounter), are seeking to harm or disable others, to hurt them, to resist care or loving kindness, to force someone to change or be a certain way. In our complex society I start to wonder, how much about the actual qualities of a place are made by the way the land is, in that place. By how much authorship can a human ascribe to their active choices, the places they inhabit, or by playing a record of memories.
After more than 20 years, I arrived at the notion places give the body knowledge and these knowing senses are impressed into our biology. The geological sensibility of a place transfers into a sense-memory as a psychological and also anthropological force. Each body then encountering a terrain differently, for the matters that make up the body’s unique volition may create the sound board for conflict. Yet always seeking that common ground, I continually return to look toward the earth for cues in choice and how of move through the often painful truths. Painful in these truths, defy belief or logic. I turn toward methods in science to create tactile experiences. These multi-dimensional approaches have been laborsome. After all, how can one understand if everything matters, actually does matter.
I was born in 1984 to loving parents in Dixon, Illinois. On a waning gibbous moon in September, alongside the Rock River, I entered the world into by Dr. Chung’s hands. After my brother and I were around 12 years, my mother took working with children in classrooms for behavior and developmental challenges. My father was a nuclear control room operator and instructor at the Byron Power Station in Illinois. Two and a half hours Northwest of Chicago, we were surrounded by forest and fields. My brother and I attended public school. I focused so I could return home free to work on art projects after school. We had 4-TV channels and a time limit on watching or video games. To this day, I attribute clear boundaries and structure to developing the discipline required to focus on developing artistic skills.
Dance training began in the cafeteria in 1990 and would remain a part of my life until college. After some gymnastics courses, I had a brief lapse with cheerleading; regretting the exploration wishing I had stuck exclusively with tap, jazz, and ballet, so I could have become a dancer. As a youth, I pushed such thoughts aside, as I was also busy with choir. The dream of being a performer made me uncomfortable despite the joy I gained in the activities.
After opening the piano during a family reunion in Maryland, I covered up my trespass of touching my relative’s furniture without permission by presenting my Oma with the keys I had opened, inviting her. When I heard the beautiful sounds, the fear, remorse and guilt of my faux-pax was filled with feeling and beauty; I asked to learn and started practice on a keyboard, eventually proving I was serious enough to play on a real piano. From 1993 onward, I trained in classical piano for 12 years playing in the Lutheran Church for the congregation and hoping to compose and perform music someday such as my high school idol, Fiona Apple.
After failing an aptitude test by a few points to join an accelerated learning program in elementary school, I felt unchallenged and began to read philosophy. I preferred book stores and libraries to rural partying schemes. Due to various frustrations and stresses at the time, I started yoga, meditation, and journaling around 1999. I knew inside, I would need to leave the small town to pursue my dream of attending art school.
In 2002, I completed my high school coursework early with honours and an independent study in fashion design. After working 2 jobs for several months, I moved to the suburbs in 2003 and began studying Interior Design in Schaumburg, Illinois. While in school, I lacked the confidence to forage into renovation design, and switched majors to Advertising, so I could find work. Instead of moving to New York or L.A., I went to Chicago to be with my boyfriend and took up a serious interest in photography.
By 2006, I was living in Chicago, after completing a Bachelor of Art in Advertising. I had taken a study abroad course on culture to New Zealand and Australia. This was my first taste of international travel and first-hand experience with sheep farming for wool and free swimming amongst the Great Barrier Reef. Photography was a way for me to share the beauty and pleasure with those I loved who were not able to be there.
After riding a tumultuous economic flux as a copywriter and creative marketer in Chicago, I moved around a bit and completed a 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training certificate in 2012. I moved to Winnetka, Illinois, and found work at a local gallery doing professional framing, glass cutting, event photography, and eventually found work managing a gallery sales shop and events the College of Lake County in Grayslake. I took the opportunity to study Darkroom and History of Photography courses and traveled on scholarship to Japan for Social Psychology, self-publishing my 2nd photography book, Bound By Water. The experiences working for 22nd Century Media challenged me to develop my photography skills in seeing the everyday as complicated and humorous in nuance. I sought a way to teach art. I had come to admire the work of Edward Weston, Sally Mann, and Olafur Eliasson after installing the Moss Wall at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. I felt creatively constricted by cliches in photography and sought to see where the limits of photography are and dig into meaning and the elements of being, becoming, and form relative to the way people see. Vision and Body would steer me through the next decade of research and work.
In 2013 my application to graduate school was accepted. Excited and deeply nervous, I moved to Los Angeles, California, quickly feeling overwhelmed by the difference I came to learn between Modernist values and Post-Modernity. I explored the events and technology developed during WWII, the psychological functions of photography, and trade histories in commerce and countercultural movements, phenomenological experience, trauma, and developed a concern about the impacts of technology on the human body, and the influence of politics and state on the nuclear family. As hate-driven social policies grew in popularity, I sought ways to expose people to the feeling of beauty in as direct ways as I could. My background and approach were faced with deconstructionist and post-modern philosophy in context to international perspectives in weekly 6-hour critiques. I balanced stress with several 90 minutes yoga sessions and excessive hours in my studio exploring materials, methods, processes.
In 2014, I met a consultant in technology and photographer online who traveled from Trondheim to meet me in L.A. A few months later, I was going to Norway-a country I had never heard of. We developed a relationship and we decided to marry, so I could move to Norway to join with him in 2015 after I completed my Master of Fine Art. Upon moving to Oslo, I became aware of the nuances in my family history, including my mother’s side having started Hubbard Street Dance in Chicago and Ellen Aurora Elisabeth Morgenröte Ammann‘s activism against socialism and for women’s rights.
The move to Norway was full of conflict and faced with pressure I moved back to California in 2016 to live in Santa Monica, completing my first permanent public space installation and trademarks with USTPO for Yoto Studio. This stint in California was cut short due to health problems; I returned to live in Oslo, in 2017, marking a busy series of years creating artwork and further studying the relationship between psychology and physiology. The slowly developing interest in textiles led to testing products with my artwork printed on it. The slow evolution coupled with vision challenges after an eye trauma resulted in the continued pursuit of developing ideas for art people can touch and pedagogical coursework.
As of today, my work remains within the medium best suited to the themes of the project. I sing, dance (never enough), and create with joy whenever possible. Over 20 years of photography is being released project-by-project. I’m looking forward to sharing my new work with you soon.
Thank you for joining me this far. I hope we meet to write the next decades with delight and reverence.