I communicate through the metaphor of objects. From quilts and teapots, to sailors' valentines and cages, I am interested in the stories objects tell and how we elevate them into heirlooms. Filled with personal content and commentary about society, the hard work of relationships, and my experience as a mom, my work tells many stories.
Each series reflects the timely concerns of my life. My work is autobiographical, and although objects are my vehicle, I think of them as self portraits. My most current work is about the particular pain of parenting teenagers, and comes from reflecting about Stolkholm Syndrome. How in the face of constant abuse by our kids/captors, it's still possible to nurture feelings of affection and love. What is a cage, and do we create our own captivity? My cages have no doors, they are part sanctuary, safety, but also freedom. Using 'mother' as a metaphorical element of essential structure and captivity, the cages contrast the ideas of the cage as confinement and refuge, places for solitary confinement and sympathetic equanimity.
Please navigate through my different series and explore my range of work in greater dept. You will find answeres to many frequently asked questions under How It All Works.
My new black series began as a result of documenting my work using step-by-step process photos. My inspiration was a coloring book, and resulted in "Wall Flower," pictured next, a black cage whose frame was entirely formed by glass line drawings of a bird, flowers, leaves, and berries. Hanging behind the finished piece were the process shots I'd printed to plan my composition. The vitality of the idea captured in the photos was lost as I 'finished' the piece. I knew I needed to learn how to get out of my own way; the resulting work was this metaphor of mother as an unwavering support structure offering both security and freedom.
This piece was the predecessor to Metaphorical Me.
It Takes A Village is based upon the emergency evacuation plans mothers construct when they need to leave home overnight. We joke that my husband's route is straight out the door. Mothers often rely on complex support systems comprised of other mothers, patching together a crazy quilts of contingencies for their kids.
Kelly Tonks Photography @ the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, CT.