Growing up outside Chicago, I was always drawing, and doing all kinds of art projects including mosaics, batiks, ceramics and beading. No one ever told me to do it, there was no art in my family, so I just did it on my own, naturally. By age 10 I entered my first art show and sold the large piece for the enormous sum of $50.

I went on to a “day job” doing international development work. I’ve lived and worked in Latin America,Europe, and Asia. My paintings are inspired by these places—landscapes and figures, markets, coastal scenes, as well as environmental themes. Some of my most successful paintings have featured coral reefs, fish, and underwater scenes inspired by reef protection work carried out at USAID-the federal agency where I worked. I’ve always leaned toward social activism, something clearly visible in my art. Art is an outlet, an expression for political consciousness.

I started working in watercolor and ink drawings. Over time I moved from smaller traditional or representational art to larger bolder abstracts. Out of a need for freer, looser, and bolder expression, I now paint primarily with acrylic paints, mixed media, and collage, with a variety of textures and surfaces. I often put on multiple layers of paint and gels and mediums for different textures. I take visible objects and abstract them with bold shapes, structures, lines, and colors and strong contrasts reminiscent of my years in Japan searching for woodblock prints. It’s about tensions between these core elements—how they interact and influence each other. My work has movement and emotional gestures integrating the rational and the intuitive, reflecting my inner world. Interpretation of reality is what art is all about and what I’m passionate about.

I paint what’s important to me. But I don’t start out with pre-conceived ideas of where a painting will go. I like to start with as much chaos, spontaneity and gestures as possible and develop the painting as I go along, taking lots of risks along the way. I like inventing new approaches.