Topsy-Turvy Mother and Daughter ©2018CStern_Fantastical/Political

Artist Statement

My work utilizes the figure to delve into our collective experience and consider what forms our perceptions and values regarding gender, familial and social roles, and art. I delve into visual symbols and story (myth, folklore, religion) and investigate how our ideas of beauty, the feminine, and ornament define our perceptions. Everything has an impact: the stories we grow up with, the relationships and values we see enacted around us, the objects we surround ourselves with, and of course the media we consume.

I am drawn to place the familiar alongside the unexpected as a way to look more closely and better understand the original. By taking what is familiar and juxtaposing it with objects and beings from other worlds, or by exaggerating, inverting, reconfiguring, I can see more clearly and reconsider the messages that are part of both the original and altered states. Dualities — the beautiful and the ugly, the fantastical and the realistic, the whole and the fragmented, the tragic and the humorous, the sacred and the worldly — are a vehicle for addressing incongruities within human experience and our culture.

Joseph Campbell writes,

“the first and most essential service of mythology is this one, of opening the mind and heart to the utter wonder of all being. And the second service, then, is cosmological: or representing the universe and the whole spectacle of nature, both as known to the mind and as beheld by the eye…” The way of the mystic and of proper art (and we might add, religion) is of recognizing through the metaphors, an epiphany beyond words.”

In a way, I am creating a mythology or cosmology. I am always interested in the power of metaphor and story to reveal connections, provide layers of meaning, and find the universal within the personal. I use visual language to explore and express those things that aren’t easily understood or defined, the complexities and contradictions of human experience and culture.