On the 23rd of September, 1984, I was born by measure of the Gregorian calendar in a birthing room alongside the Rock River, in Dixon, Illinois. My father worked in nuclear engineering operations and my mother stayed home with us until I was old enough to look after my younger brother. She tended to classrooms of children with developmentally challenged spectrums, which intensified during her 14+ years of service. My father’s work also amped up as executives in Chicago made fiscal decisions impacting the lives of people they never met.
Growing up with a nascent knowledge of social and political complexities, I focused on the surrounding forest, prairie, river valley beauty, local art, engineering, and native histories. I excelled in science and loved dance, and practiced tap, jazz, ballet, hip-hop, as well as piano because I had wanted to play drums and the requirement to do percussion was several years of piano lessons. The number of times I would let a rule block my way would end up becoming a pattern to work free from later on.
I was sensitive to the social dynamics I witnessed in my peers. Creative practices allowed me to focus on my preference for the company of the more experienced, as I often found my peers’ attitude much too flippant for my interests. My first artistic memories were being awarded “Artist of the Month” for faux-cave drawings (which I thought was a joke at the time but posed for the local newspaper picture anyway), and being awarded the best Earth Day visor design when I had to stay home from school sick with a throat infection. I recalled the children saying it was not fair because I had more time to work on the visor since I was at home sick. Little did they know, I spent very little time on the visor but fell into a wordless place that told me what to draw. This also started my research into demystifying the mysterious that compounded later with studies in the esoteric, philosophy, sociology, psychology, meditation, and spirituality.
In that, there was something different about the way I saw things, and withdrew from social dramas that were not engaging creative energy properly. I was always confused why humans sought pathologization instead of understanding and believed everyone must have synesthesia as I learned I did. Lineages and differences delighted and inspired me.
My work with eros (life) engages in conversations on the ways places make people, and our relationship with the landscape and bodies during technocratic times. The artworks nurture reverence for beauty and serve to engage parietal aspects of perception. While the works I create express psychological states we can find within the landscape, the work is also clearing time and space to engage in perceptual contemplation, where the experiences of art can lead to insights, connections, and understandings.
Moving to Norway and living through auto-immune challenges offered me opportunities to study relationships between biology and toxicology, physiology, and psychology. Immersive experiences of swimming in the black-bottomed lake Ånøya and hiking through sapphire twilight in Lofoten moved me to take up methods used in resonance recordings to connect my images and image textiles with geological records of places. The art in designing this æsthetic resonances project grows upon the sense of reverence for nature while moving the physical senses of Place into both art traditions and tactile experiences.
FROM THE ALMOST BEGINNING (an essay)
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 a symphony of senses. I went into art as a way to understand nature and found an insistence to return to nature’s teachings in reverence and wonder. Synesthesia was a term I later found ascribed to my human condition. As I walk through life, I encountered many people who unbeknownst to them (or me at the encounter) are seeking to harm or reduce others, to resist care or loving kindness, to force someone to change or be a certain way. In our complex society, I began to wonder, instead of the social influences impacting our temporality, how much the resonant qualities of a place are made by the way the land is. How much authorship can a human ascribe to their active choices, the places they inhabit, or a record of memories?
After more than 23 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 encounters 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, what 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 of Dr. Chung’s hands. After my brother and I were around 12 years, my mother took to working with children in classrooms for behavior and developmental challenges. My father was a nuclear control room manager 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 while acing courses and graduating early.
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 and 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 the 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 to play. When I heard the beautiful sounds, the fear, remorse, and guilt of my faux-pax were 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 bookstores 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 honors 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 as a writer. 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, after nearly completing a BA in Interior Design. I had taken a study abroad course on culture in 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 beauty and pleasure with those I loved who were not able to be there.
After riding a tumultuous economic flux as a copywriter 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, and event photography, and eventually found work managing a gallery sales shop and events at 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 every day 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 clichés 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 of yoga sessions and excessive hours in my studio exploring materials, methods, and processes.
In 2014, I met a consultant in technology and photography 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 him in 2015 to make a family 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; faced with pressures my efforts proved to have little impact, so I moved back to California in 2016 to live in Santa Monica, completing my first permanent public art installation, Teknovisuell Experience, and USPTO trademark 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 developing interest in textiles picked up from a high school independent study in fashion design, led to testing products with my artwork printed on them and hand-knitting pieces for friends, family, and clients around the world. 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, and create with joy whenever possible. 22+ years of photography are being released project-by-project. I’m looking forward to sharing my forthcoming books, exhibitions, and news of art projects with you.
Thank you for joining me this far. I hope we meet to write the next decades with delight and reverence.
These are my undergrad courses. 20 hours with art projects and 1-2 part-time jobs. I see now in retrospect the energy many put into a family, I had poured into my studies. Hopefully that study works out for something that proves beneficial: