My “purse” sculptures were originally created in an artist collaborative made up of Melissa Harmon, Judy Johnson-Williams, Lauren (JJW’s daughter), and Naomi Raine. We wanted to focus on feminism and we settled on the purse as the vehicle for our works. These pieces are much smaller than I usually work and I enjoyed the precious feeling the size difference made.
The Olive Hyde Gallery in Fremont did a wonderful job of jurying and displaying the work. The gallery is in beautiful California style building which was once a private residence which was given to the city. It is located across the street from Mission San Jose and is also near Ohlone College. Catch the show before it ends on 7/11/09.
Olive Hyde Art Gallery
123 Washington Blvd.
Fremont, CA 94539
What is a purse? I find it interesting that originally purses were used by men because they were the ones going out into the world and needed a place to carry their possessions. Later as women began emerging from their cloistered homes, they carried their purses hidden under their skirts. Eventually purses became more visible as fashion statements.
The purse as canvas, served as a way for me to explore different feminist issues in my life and culture. Since the purse has an outside and an inside it brings up the public view the seen view, and the hidden, internal inside. And because the purse is meant to be carried with you, it brought up questions for me like– what do I take with me? What is necessary? What is something I can’t let go of?
I use found objects, often those cast off, in my work. Their lovely patina, familiarity, and attractive shapes, combine to create a new piece with all kinds of feeling and meaning. For example a self portrait piece, “Osmosis Purse”, explores how I move in the world, exposing myself to issues and culture, trying to maintain an open framework. The strainer has a translucent open weave and reflects the osmosis between the inner and outer world. The strainer and the old mattress spring, .contrast with the light in the center of the assemblage.
I explore memory in two of the pieces. “Maki Purse” resembles a “maki sushi roll” which my mother and grandmother used to make for special family events. In the center of the purse is a set of chopsticks which are the exact same as the ones my family used to eat dinner with. The purse acts as a precious memory holder for me.
The “Feed Purse” is made of dry pointed vegetation and resembles a bird’s beak. It deals with eating discomforts.
I continued with the assemblage direction, incorporating organic matter. The “Family Jewels Purse” uses shells to hold my father’s family who raised oysters on the Puget Sound in Washington.
“Hana Mama Purse” has an almost spiky ring of playing cards circling it. The cards are from a game called “Hana”, meaning flower in Japanese. When I was growing up, my mother played this game once a month with a group of women. Besides bowling, this was the only time she took for herself and her women friends.