About Milkweed Health & Harmony Emporium
“I started Milkweed Health and Harmony Emporium in 2015 as a way to combine my interests in natural products, wellness, sustainability, and art. I had been making soap, moisturizer, and lip balm for many years, and I knew many people were like me and needed an alternative to the sometimes harsh and unsustainable commercial products available. I also realized that people just needed help and encouragement in living natural, harmonious lives. I come from a long line of small-town entrepreneurs, where, as a child, I was a junior grease-monkey, “working” alongside my grandfather in his gas station/deli that he and my grandmother owned in the tiny Kentucky community of Kettle. I loved being a part of a small business and learned from my grandparents that everyone deserves fairness and respect; their neighbors and customers were like a second family. As a young adult, I realized that I was an artist at heart, so, after having three lovely children and dissolving a failed marriage, I pursued, and eventually received, a B.F.A. in studio arts (photography concentration) from Austin Peay State University in 2003. Along the way, I presented arts-related programs to local schools, private groups and domestic violence shelters. Between that time and 2015, I paid my career dues with various tough but rewarding jobs including Arts Education Coordinator, Librarian Assistant, and Youth Workforce Development Coordinator. I also met and married my soul-mate and together we raised our children and finally opened our dream store, Milkweed. I continue to pursue my art, especially through photography and mixed-media, showing my work in regional galleries and juried shows, and, of course, at Milkweed.”
Here's my Mixed-Media Art Statement
Looking at a box collage is like walking through a museum of the mind. The individual elements of each piece are artifacts, telling stories of their own, mixing with the stories of other elements in the work, reacting differently with the personal stories of each viewer.
Box collage brings together my art training, my instincts, my natural talents, my technical skills, and a little bit of reckless abandon. While some of the elements in my 3-D pieces are “found” and used as found, most of the elements I employ are either altered or made from scratch. I often use elements of my own photography (prints, photograms, negatives, etc.). Many times, I create an item or an image using various types of media, including wood, resin, metal, clay, paint, or whatever I can find, in order to allow the narrative of that piece to emerge.
When I began making art formally, about 20 years ago, I didn’t appreciate mixed-media. I even referred to a fellow artist’s 2-D mixed-media pieces as just more of that “collage shit,” but as I matured as an artist, I realized the power of things to evoke feelings and memories. On a practical level, I learned that a thing, whether it’s an old thimble or a doll’s head or a matchbox, can become a visual element in a work of art, just as a shadow or a bold line. I also rekindled one of my long-held beliefs that things carry a type of energy history that can be intuited. Therefore, when I combine a number of visual elements, made up of my manipulated images and these individual things, I’m creating a type of visual and psychological stew that is layered with flavors that hopefully evoke both a new experience for the viewer and also tap into the subconscious world of memory.
I first started making box collage as a project in a 2-D class that I was taking, actually breaking the rules of the assignment and creating a 3-D piece instead. When those works went up for a class exhibit, one my favorite teachers saw my piece and became excited. He told me to “Go to the Library, run, don’t walk!” to find anything I could on the works of Joseph Cornell. At that time, I had never even heard of Joseph Cornell, but after seeing his work and realizing how beautiful and serious it was, not only as ART but as little portrayals of secret worlds that contained stories within stories within stories, I was hooked.