visual artist and educator
Tribal Affiliation: Hamawi and Atsegewi Bands of the Pit River Tribe, Noyatakyu Band of the Mountain Maidu Tribe
My parents met during WWII in Sydney while my father, an American Indian from Northern California, was on a three week leave after two years of fighting in the Pacific. They fell in love instantly and then maintained a four year correspondence by letter. At the end of WWII mom sailed to America and they were married. My father remained in the military as a career officer.
Most of my early life was spent traveling and living around the world. My brother and I attended grade school in Germany, Australia and many states in the U.S. I attended high schools in California, Maryland and Japan. The experience of growing up in a mixed race family against the backdrop of so many different cultural settings provided me with an interesting world-view from which I draw much of my artistic inspiration. I have been an artist at heart since my first box of crayons. My imagination earned me first place in a school wide art contest, at the age of six. That win was very encouraging and I have been making art ever since. I was inspired at that early stage of life, by the Creation stories of the European Renaissance that I saw firsthand as my family toured the castles and cathedrals of countries that had recently been ravaged by a world war.
My large scale, figure-narrative paintings reflect my fascination with allegory and the similarities and connections between the creation stories of the Earth’s diverse cultures. I began my adult career in art as a photographer. I attended University and earned a Master’s degree in painting, while raising my three children.
Painting now occupies most of my creative time, recreating the Northern California Indian Creation stories that my father told me over the years, stories that had come down to him through many generations. These ancient tales carried important moral lessons. I consider my work to be a modern extension of the tradition of story telling.
As a culture bearer, I feel a special responsibility to reflect my tribal and family history with honesty and compassion, through art making. As oral traditions are being threatened by modern pressures, distractions and, of course, the passage of time, I seek to preserve these stories and their messages visually. With a foot in both the Native American and European cultures I feel especially blessed with the unique perspective that allows me tell my stories in the way I do.
I currently live and work in the foothills of the Sierra Madre, not far from the lands of my ancestors.