‘My work is an antidote to the wasteful, consumer-oriented direction of modern life. I don’t like to waste; I don’t like to throw things out.’
“As a found-object artist, I like to work with things that have a history to them. I like the hunt. I’m always looking for interesting things. I go to flea markets and junk stores. I’m always looking in dumpsters. I look at people’s garbage. And my friends give me very strange gifts on my birthday. This past birthday, I got some old hinges and believe it or not, I got some human hair.
“People love to get rid of stuff. The things I get from friends give added meaning to my work because they’re helping me create the piece. I take things apart a lot, like an old adding machine.
“If I’m throwing anything out, I will take it apart first. The older things have better parts in them. I have a lot of stuff, I particularly like things that are rusty, that have some sort of patina on them already. I don’t distinguish between things that are precious and things that are what most people would call junk. I could put a diamond next to something rusty that I found in the street.
“My mother was an artist; she has a painting in the Smithsonian. The first thing I remember making was a cigar box that I did bead work on. I still have it. As a child, I used to love to play in the woods. My friend and I loved to find things. I always liked to make something out of nothing. I’m a tap dancer, so I use old taps from my shoes.
“I use kitchen utensils and a lot of taillights; it’s a nice material, the plastic is strong, it has color and texture. I use steel wool to dull it a little. Oh, and organ stops. My friend called me, it was pouring rain, and she said, ‘There’s an organ out in the street.’ I said, ‘I’ll be right over.’
“I’ve made a lot of jewelry, but it’s just small sculpture. The jewelry was kind of big, and it kept getting bigger, so I said, ‘What the hell! I should just make sculpture.’ I’ve been in galleries. I was just in a show at the Bayard Cutting Arboretum. I’ve been on the board of the Long Island Craft Guild for like 50 years now.
“My work is an antidote to the wasteful, consumer-oriented direction of modern life. I don’t like to waste; I don’t like to throw things out. I’d rather put them in a sculpture where they can have a new life.”
Interviewed by Barbara Schuler