March 2, 2024

Hyacinthus Chooses The Monster

Hyacinthus Mesmerized, 2023, 14.5” x 11.5”

hand-stitched embroidery and punch needle with dmc thread.

“If we train young people to read insult, hostility, and prejudice into every interaction, they may increasingly see the world as hostile to them and fail to thrive in it.”. -- Helen Pluckrose 

Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender, and Identity -- and Why This Harms Everybody. 

Hyacinthus Mesmerized is inspired by an Ancient Greek vase painting from the 5th century B.C. depicting the youth Hyacinthus with a Swan. The ancient Greeks asked questions about the nature of truth and what it means to be a good person, but this 21st-century Hyacinthus has much more to contend with. Here, he represents the youth who thinks he must sacrifice himself (his Self) for what he sees as a higher calling. Images within point to the pressures of identity and conformity, portrayed by a monster threatening to consume him, and surveillance cameras always watching how he performs. On each side of him is a partial pyramid representing the "hierarchy of oppression", halved to symbolize Hyacinthus' split psyche, which is cut off from the real beauty and truth of the world/Universe. The Swan symbolizes the profound mystery and elegance of his being  - his soul - here subjugated into his unconscious shadow. 

January 29, 2023

Ophelia and Narcissus

Ophelia And Narcissus, 2022, cotton embroidery floss on fabric, 10.5"x 14.5"

"The most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome." -

 George Orwell 

This tapestry brings together two iconic water scenes and characters: Ophelia from Shakespeare's Hamlet, and Narcissus from Greek mythology. Ophelia floats by, surrounded by discarded masks, as Narcissus checks out his latest selfie, with a book on Postmodernism on his lap. Two surveillance cameras point down at him, and he is oblivious not only to the presence of Ophelia, but also to the fact that he's being watched back by Big Tech/social media, the idea of "surveilled conformism".* A Linx creature, a stand-in for Echo, represents the abiding intelligence of nature, embodying the truth, beauty, and mystery outside of the constraints of human egoic identity stories. Supporting players include a field of Narcissus flowers, deer, muses, a full moon, Cyprus trees, and a night sky. l created this piece by combining hand stitching and punch needle techniques for the first time.

I interpreted the stories through a contemporary lens to examine some of the tensions and conflicts between ideology and reality happening in our current times. Here Narcissus represents a belief system informed by postmodernism and social constructionism, and in particular by gender ideology. Ophelia represents the biological reality of an adult human female impacted by that dead-end ideology, and the erasure of women as a sex category. The blood drops on her dress have a double meaning: both of her violent demise, and of the blood of menstruation, which is only specific to women, but in 2022 still needs to be said! 



August 7, 2022

Habeous Wokus Corpus

Habeous Wokus Corpus, 2022, hand-stitched embroidery floss on vintage linen tablecloth, 15"x11"


"You can resolve to live your life with integrity. Let your credo be this: Let the lie come into the world, let it even triumph. But not through me.” --Alexander Solzhenitsyn

This piece is about language in the service of a 'progressive' ideology that divides humanity into identity groups vying for power, and which attempts to erase both the unique individual and the universal human. I stitched words, taken from the new Left's ideological lexicon, onto a mummy form with a gaslight on its head and a trap at its feet. I imagine that the words are spiraling down into the trap form, symbolizing how a Postmodern redefinition of language and meaning, disconnected from reality, contracts the world and eventually becomes a conceptual dead-end. The background represents the openness (swirling energy) and mystery (treasure chest), outside of those limiting beliefs. 

April 24, 2022

Fragility Trap

Venus Fragility Trap, 2022, hand-stitched DMC floss on dishtowel remnant, 15" x 6.5"


"It's only because of their stupidity that they're able to be so sure of themselves.” 

Franz Kafka, The Trial 

The idea for 'Venus Fragility Trap' came to me when I was stitching my small 'Head of Venus' (5"x4", second photo). I had seen aerial photographs of mass graves in South America because of the Covid pandemic, and I was struck by both the visual beauty of the pattern of the caskets and the incredible, deep sadness of it. I stitched tears down the face of Venus: even Beauty grieves for the world. Those tears, however, prompted an association with a current neo-racist discourse about *white tears*, especially ''white women's tears''. It struck me how pernicious it is to take an entire group of unique individuals, define them as a monolithic identity, and weaponize a human emotion against them. 

I created it using stitched words mainly referenced from the novel The Trial by Franz Kafka and the nonfiction book White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. It examines a dehumanizing ideology that uses logical fallacies and circular 'Kafka Traps' in language to perpetuate itself. This piece confronts these limiting concepts with a contrasting beauty/Beauty which represents both individual beingness (I Am That I Am) and a universal human story (mythological Venus). I placed the stitched language symbolically- the sentences from The Trial are on the upper part of the background and act as satirical observation, while those placed among the coffins on the lower part are taken from White Fragility, and contain the notion of a deadening and dead-end belief system. The repeating phrases (different iterations of *whiteness*: white fragility, white tears, white ignorance, etc.) that I stitched on the figure become only a superficial imposition rather than an obscuration of something essential. My original intention was that the meaning of the language should be immediately discernable. Instead, the words are part of the design itself, making this piece less like a cudgel and more like an invitation.

November 28, 2021

Sphinx Tapestry (Addendum)


Sphinx Tapestry (Addendum), 2021, hand-stitched cotton thread embroidery floss on linen, 25" x 16"

 "Functional mythology has been replaced by inadequate ideology." - Jordan Peterson

This is another piece that contemporizes an ancient Greek myth. The sphinx is made up of bomb shapes, and the wing is made up of thermometers. I stitched the background using water drop shapes, and it contains four symbols that surround the figure. Two of them denote a sense of urgency (the hourglass and the bell), and two of them point to our lowest and highest potential as humans (the saw and the circle). The saw refers to this quote from the Stanford ecologist Paul Ehrlich: "In pushing other species to extinction, humanity is busy sawing off the limb on which it perches." It's placed low under the Sphinx figure, in contrast to the circle at the top. The circle here is more complex and has layered meanings. On a mundane level, it represents the sun that's warming the planet. On a profound level, it symbolizes our transcendent wholeness, the one consciousness that we are all a part of. The idea of universality is embedded in this piece and is the antithesis of the current divisive mind virus that's been infecting much of Western culture. 

A story about the Sphinx by the 8th Cent B.C. writer Hesiod is told in the book Symbols And Legends In Western Art by E.S. Whittlesey: (The Sphinx) frequented a high rock near Thebes and waylaid travelers with the riddle, "What walks on four legs in the morning, on two at noon, and on three in the evening?" The answer is "Man"-in infancy, prime of life, and old age. Those who failed to give the correct answer were hurled to their deaths from the rock. I imagine us now collectively on a precipice with a riddle in front of us. The 'Addendum' of the title points to the idea that we need new questions: what does it mean to be human, and who are we really? The Sphinx sits on a coffin decorated with stylized hemlock. A passage about Socrates is on the opposite page in the same book: (he) was allegedly condemned to death for corrupting the youth and for impiety. The latter charge was for his belief in the immortality of the soul. Although I didn't know what he was killed for when I chose hemlock as a symbol, the story connects beautifully to my addendum question. Socrates spoke 'truth in the face of danger', an idea known as 'parrhesia' in Greek. It seems like a necessary, even urgent, imperative for our times. 

September 5, 2021

Mistress of Animals


Potnia Theron of Pandemics, 2021, hand-stitched cotton thread on dish towel remnant, 7.5" x 5" 


“We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it."

- Albert Schweitzer 

This piece contemporizes the myth of Potnia Theron (Mistress of Animals) in the context of not only the possible zoonotic connection to the Covid-19 pandemic, but to our treatment and exploitation of animals in general. This motif is widespread in ancient art from the Mediterranean world and the ancient Near East showing a central human, or human-like, female figure who grasps two animals, one to each side. It's loosely based on an image of a Greek vase painting of a winged Artemis Potnia Theron. I exchanged the traditional Panther and Stag with a Pangolin and Mink, (stitched in red for blood), with a bat incorporated into the dress.

June 6, 2021


Eris/Discordia, 2021, 14.5" x 14.5", hand-stitched cotton thread on machine stitched dish towel remnant.

"The most we can do is to dream the myth onwards and give it a modern dress"  

- Carl Jung 

With this piece, I'm contemporizing the Greek myth of the goddess Eris (Roman name Discordia). Inspired by contemporary Afghan War Rugs, the figure is referenced from an ancient Greek black-figure kylix ceramic painting. This Eris has no nationality or ethnicity or race or religion, and I see her as one of the personifications of humanity's collective shadow. She is, however, the goddess who calls in war and thus represents the asymmetry of overwhelming military might and state terrorism. Her hair becomes a blast ball, her tattooed arms hold an assault rifle, her wings have images of fighter jets, and the hem of her dress is decorated with dollar signs. She's surrounded by bombs, helicopters, grenades, bullets, blood drops, and tanks. 

Here's a description of her from the website The Theoi Project, a site exploring Greek mythology and the gods in classical literature and art: "[Eris] delights in the tumult of war, increasing the moaning of men. She is insatiable in her desire for bloodshed, and after all the other gods have withdrawn from the battle-field, she still remains rejoicing over the havoc that has been made." She was the mother of the Kakodaimones (Cacodaemons), evil spirits which plagued mankind.

It's interesting that these qualities were connected to a Goddess. Usually, I think of the Feminine as being associated with nurture, compassion, and relationship, even though soldiers in many contemporary societies are also women. I came across a book called Lost Goddesses of Early Greece, by Charlene Spretnak, and learned a lot about the origins of classical mythology. Spretnak writes that "...for thousands of years before the classical myths took form and were written down by Hesiod and Homer in the seventh century B.C., a rich oral tradition of myth making had existed. Strains of the earlier traditions are evident in the later myths, which reflect the cultural amalgamation of three waves of barbarian invaders. These invaders brought with them a patriarchal social order and their thunderbolt God, Zeus." This idea seems very apt when thinking about Eris, even in a contemporary context. Perhaps the power of a true Feminine archetype is rising again, and war and war mongers will no longer be worshiped or valued in a world in dire need of healing. 

March 21, 2021

The Sacrifice Of Gaza Tapestry

The Sacrifice Of Gaza Tapestry, 2020, hand-stitched cotton thread on dishtowel, 15.5'' x 25''


The Sacrifice Of Gaza Tapestry is stitched in its entirety in my mosaic style, and each medium-sized square shape has an average of twelve stitches. My three-dimensional mosaic piece The Sacrifice of Gaza (2009), is the direct progenitor of this tapestry. With an obvious reference to War Rugs, the background portrays fighter jets, bombs, surveillance cameras, guns, bullets, and flash grenades. The 'Sacrifice' of the title refers to a world that has turned its back on Gaza, and specifically to Western complicity. In that way, the bombs and the other machines of war represent me, dropped in my name while the mainstream media, by its omission, tells me it doesn’t matter. The world’s power system remains silent and complicit while Israel bombs Gaza anytime it feels like it, including in the summer of 2020, with constant bombardment during a world pandemic. I think of 2014 when the explosive power that Israel fired on Gaza by land, sea, and air far surpassed one of the atomic bombs the United States dropped on Japan in August 1945. Over 550 children were killed during that summer of massacre. 

And there's the Great March of Return, which began on March 30, 2018. The demands were simple: An end to the now 12-year siege on Gaza, and the ability for refugees, which make up more than 70% of Gaza’s population, to be allowed to return to their homes. Over the course of one year, scores of Gazans, mostly young men, were shot and killed, or severely injured, by Israeli snipers stationed along Gaza’s eastern border with Israel. On just one day, May 14, 2018, more than 1,300 protesters were shot by the Israeli army. Sixty people were killed. The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza has placed the death toll as of March 29, 2019 at 266, including 50 children, three medics, and two journalists. Doctors Without Borders called it “unacceptable and inhuman” violence by the Israeli army against Palestinian protesters. This is what United Nations Special Rapporteur Michael Link wrote about Gaza: “There is no comparable situation in the world...where a substantial population has endured such a permanent lockdown, largely unable to travel or trade, and controlled by an occupying power in breach of its solemn international human rights and humanitarian obligations.”


February 6, 2021

Camel Pull-Toy Tapestry

Camel Pull-Toy Tapestry, 2020, hand-stitched cotton thread on monk cloth, 13"x12".


"Ain't gonna study war no more" - lyrics from an American gospel song

Camel Pull-Toy Tapestry is stitched in my faux weaving style and is directly influenced by War Rugs and by my continuing interest in woven textiles. It's based on my Camel Pull-Toy sculpture, which I created in 2005 in reaction to US warmongering in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those wars got me interested in Islamic art and culture as I observed the ubiquitous propaganda and demonization of Islam in the US during that time. Like the original version, this piece refers to themes of US Imperialism and hegemony-along with its allies - in the region of Southwest Asia. The tapestry's two - dimensional format enabled me to expand the narrative by filling in the background with fighter jets and bombs. 

I chose the dromedary camel as a shorthand signifier that makes an immediate connection to a specific geographic location, and not as any definition or judgment of a culture. The camel in the context of a child's pull-toy has political connotations that refer to Islamophobia and Western domination, pointing to its manipulator and to the hubris and terror of Empire's military might. 

December 13, 2020

Gouache Studies

The Last Centaur, 2020, gouache on paper, 15"x17"

Sphinx (Addendum), 2020, gouache on paper, 22"x15"

I think the pandemic has been a catalyst for me to start painting with gouache. I've painted with oils and acrylics before, even though I'm often more drawn to art that's created in gouache. I started out with the idea that these paintings would be studies for future stitchwork and/or sculpture pieces. The Last Centaur and Sphinx (Addendum) were created with that intention, but as I've continued to learn and experiment - practice, really - my new paintings are becoming stand-alone pieces. I used a sort of faux weaving style with both of them, even painting vertical 'warp' lines before working the horizontal lines in. Painting is not a language that I'm really comfortable with, and I'm thinking about how I stitch and trying to incorporate some of those ideas into the process. For instance, I like the built-in boundaries of certain materials and processes, including the limited color palette of thread or rice paper. I'm enjoying the challenge of figuring out what works for me with paint, though, and It's been nice to work in a medium that's faster and more immediate than the painstakingly slow hand-stitching that is my main practice.

August 23, 2020

Girl In The Plasma Fields


Girl In The Plasma Fields, 2020,
hand-stitched cotton thread on vintage linen table cloth remnant,
25'' x 16''

“Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion”—Rumi 

Girl In The Plasma Fields started as a portrait of my teenage niece, referenced from a black and white photograph of her face. She hated the photo, but I thought it was beautiful, and that she looked very classical. I think the piece has an overall quality of antiquity about it. I stitched it by interlocking circle shapes together in what I call my modified chain stitch. I began it in mid-March, coincidentally around the same time that Seattle and Spain - where my niece lives -were each beginning their lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic. When I worked on this piece I felt a synergy with her - even though we live so far apart - especially when I was stitching the face. She went through a long period of fear, when she would barely leave her room, and it was around the time that I started working on the background that she ventured back out into the world. It felt significant and synchronistic. 

This piece is about perception rather than transformation, about seeing ourselves as we are beyond our physical bodies. In addition to being a specific portrait, it's also a depiction of the luminous and unchanging presence underlying every person's particular story, and of the exquisitely tuned frequency of unified consciousness-the plasma fields - which create the manifest world. The images of the pinecone, the shell, and the Spanish moon moth act as both personal signifiers and mystical symbols. I associate the pinecone with the Fibonacci sequence that my niece learned about in school, and which is found consistently in nature. Here it also represents the sacred symbol of the esoteric third eye, or seat of the soul. I stitched it in purple threads to allude to the Violet Flame of the I Am presence. The shell denotes place and proximity to the sea, but it also has a liminal quality, representing an in-between state like that of existence during the quarantine. It contains the mystery and power of spiraling infinity, and I created it in colors that are very close to the rest of the background, as if newly formed out of the swirling energy surrounding it. I chose the wings of the Spanish moon moth, placed on the figure like a piece of clothing, to signify personal identity, while at the same time acting as a metaphor for the transience of the physical body and for the multidimensional reality of our human existence. 

April 12, 2020

Outrageous Fortune

Outrageous Fortune, 2020,
hand-stitched cotton thread on linen, 

"Our true nature is divine and eternal. Our true purpose of life is to awaken and realize that permanent divinity that is within us.” 
Amit Ray 

Outrageous Fortune is stitched in its entirety in what I think of as a modified chain stitch, and is inspired by the Sphinx creature on the top of the Wheel of Fortune tarot card. These figures are usually portrayed in the Egyptian version but this one is based on a Greek stone statue from the 6th century B.C. I added a crown on its head to represent divinity and a sword above it to symbolize the cutting away of delusions to discover who we actually are. I believe that this discovery is ultimately the greatest fortune of all.