There are moments that define us- moments which mark the boundary between phases. Moments that give us direction. Like finding a tree with two painted blazes, indicating a sharp turn in the trail.
It’s been nearly a year since I last updated this blog. Truly, it is because I have been so bewildered by the sudden and constant change in my life that I’ve been unable to put it all into words. This time last year I was sitting behind the desk at a gallery, curating an award show, building props for a feature film, partnered, and living in the city. Today I am a full time environmental scientist, hiking nearly nonstop to asses and protect natural resources, single, and living in countryside solitude. I cannot express the gravity of these changes, though I am certain that the conscious decisions I have made are absolutely right. But, there was that moment- that pervasively deciding moment when I chose to veer off my path and search for another.
I had signed up for the graduate open house at the Maryland College Institute of Art- I was enrolled for a portfolio review which I was stressing over, and would be introduced to the entrepreneurial business in arts program that just started there. I had ideas for my own company- my own name and everything picked out. Products sketched and tested. I was ready. Grad school. Continuing my education would make me a full time student for 20 straight years. Eerie.
At the same time, I had accepted a job offer at an environmental science firm, falling back on my strong history in earth science and biology, for lack of other stable income options. And I was hurting. Bad. Because I felt like a sell-out, and because I had completely stopped making work. For a variety of reasons. I got anxious, I got depressed, I deteriorated.
And then a friend from work invited me rock climbing. Rock climbing. That thing I used to do six days a week. That thing that kept me grounded, and calm, and clambering forward. That love that broke my body, then my heart, and stopped me in my tracks. I was suddenly flooded with memories of my time spent on the vertical plain. Of old problems worked through to redpoint (that one little purple crimp after the roof heel hook crux move), of friendships forged in sweat and blood, of fear and triumph and pain and defeat, and of partners in whose hands my very life rested. That part of my life had been filled with the truest love and trust. I can’t believe I let all that slip away from me. Yes. It was time to get back into the harness.
The only issue was that this climbing trip happened to fall on the day of my graduate school open house. And so, I had to decide. Go to the open house, get evaluated for graduate potential, look at financing and refinancing of loans, figure out hours of work versus sleep, try to claw my small way into the art world. Or, go climb.
I took me a minute to remember the double-backed figure eight. I was tying into a toprope route, a medium grade 5.9, “Breakaway.” It was long and overhanging all the way up the 100 foot face dihedral, a real muscle pumper. When I chalked up and slid my fingers to lock in the crack, my body remembered what to do. I eased my way up to the crux- a box shaped boulder that juts 4 feet out from the corner. By the time I looked up to see it, I had gotten myself wedged way off course beneath its ceiling. If I fell here, I’d swing back into the trees.
Though there was no real danger besides a little bit of whiplash, the perceived danger was staggering. My legs were shaking, my arms on fire, my head bent awkwardly sideways to accommodate my helmet beneath the roof. I hadn’t been climbing in a few years. I hadn’t been climbing on real rock in a few years more. I wasn’t in any kind of physical or mental shape. I freaked out. Choked by fear, losing my breath, heart pounding in my ears- all the anxiety over lost art and school and love and mistakes came flooding into my mind, spinning a million words a second. All the while my legs were threatening to shake me off my ledge by their tremors, my hands cramped so badly that I couldn’t open them to grasp the next hold. I shook my head to free it of its own riot, but it didn’t help. Instead I lost my balance and dangerously barn-doored backwards before clinging even tighter to my tiny ledge, extra scared now. That next hold was just out of reach.
I took a deep breath and told myself to get it together. I spoke out loud to my body, unable to hear my own thoughts. “Ok. It’s ok. Move your left hand along the crack- there- crimp. Ok. Now inch right leg forward- got it. Now right leg highstep, now turn-“   …somehow, that worked. I pulled myself out of the corner, having finished the sequence clean. My friends below were cheering. My entire body was shaking.
Breakaway. An apt name for a milestone route. Not that it’s a particularly hard route- I’ve done it clean many times since- but that day, something shifted in me. I remembered how to calm myself down. I remembered what’s important, and what I need to focus on. All my priorities turned on their heels. I threw myself full force into my scientific job, breezing through trainings and problems and reports. I’ve been reveling in my time spent outside, remembering how once I was a little girl who found God in the beauty of nature. And who thought she was Davey Crockett (where still my mind sometimes wanders..) exploring the forest. I’m letting my heart heal and grow. I’m fostering these new friendships with new partners- climbing partners- that are deep and true and bright. I’m spending every free moment I can on that familiar vertical surface. And I’m freaking loving it. I’m making art work, writing songs, taking pictures, reading, loving, and living. I’m trail running and backpacking and bike commuting. I’m reconciling with my past in my home town. I’m working my ass off so I can play even harder. Next month, I camp in the high mountains of California. From there, I fly to South Korea to visit one of my dearest friends. There I’ll climb Mount Hallasan solo. My travelling art show just wrapped up, and in August, I’m the featured artist at a major exhibition. September leads me to the Telluride Film Festival. Next year, I’m planning on the Cascades, then Alaska.

The nature of this new lifestyle lends itself to a different format in blogging. Catch my daily updates now at



A little press

For the upcoming show I helped curate:


At the start of July, I began working as Assistant Curator at the Silber Art Gallery, Goucher College. The curator, Laura Amussen, gave me a tremendous opportunity to organize and curate a satellite exhibition for the Baker Artists Awards this year. in three days with amazing support from two very talented MICA interns, Travis Levasseur and Sage Denver, we pulled it together.

This is OBSCURITIES, my first shot at true curatorial work. United by their passion for abstraction, this selection of Baker Artist Award nominees coalesce to create a show devoted to their departure from form, place, communication, and identity.

 click on images to view larger

"Obscurities" will be presented in Goucher College’s Silber and Rosenberg Art Galleries from August 30th through October 16th, 2011. This exhibit, which is free and open to the public, can be viewed Tuesday through Sunday from 11a.m. to 4 p.m. An artist’s reception will be held Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Silber and Rosenberg Art Galleries. Please visit

Participating Artists:
Alexander Heilner, Andrew Lauman, Joanna Kopczyk, Justin Kelly, Kyle Freeman, Lauren Brick, Leslie Furlong, Michael Farley, Nate Larson & Marni Shindelman, Christopher Attenborough, Stewart Watson, Mark Eisendrath, Kelly Shaw, Karl Connolly, Michael Northrup, and Eric Dyer.


Two of my pieces are in this show. It's definitely worth checking out... I want to buy a lot of the other work there. Very strong stuff.

click on the images for a larger version

Exhibit Dates

Wildland will be presented at Goucher College's Silber Art Gallery in the Athenaeum from June 28 to August 7, 2011. This exhibit, which is free and open to the public, can be viewed Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Artist Reception

An artists' reception will be held in the Silber Gallery on Saturday, July 9, 2011 from 3 to 5 p.m. Please call 410-337-6477 for more information.

About the Exhibit

Wildland, a satellite exhibition in conjunction with Artscape, features the work of nine local artists: Ryan Browning, Travis Childers, Frank Day, Elizabeth Hoeckel, Savanna Leigh, Susan Main, Joshua Smith, Peter Stern, and Polly Townsend. While viewing submissions from the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts and looking for an overall arching theme, I was struck by the large number of local artists whose work seemed to be derived from the landscape. Landscape, as a topic, has been around for centuries-Goucher College has even mounted a few shows around the theme. However, in this case I noticed a narrower or sub-theme of wilderness and outdoor recreation. Images of camper trailers nestled in the woods, wild animals, mountaineers, and people gathered together as if looking out over a scenic view mingled with more traditional nature imagery. Thus, each artist in Wildland draws inspiration from the great outdoors, inviting the viewer to explore the wilderness as seen through their eyes and experiences.
Laura Amussen, curator

Silber Art Gallery: Goucher College
1021 Dulaney Valley Road
Baltimore, MD 21204-2794

visual space

Taken from NPR's blog 13.7:

"To localize an object means simply to represent the movements that would be necessary to reach it." These words of the great French mathematician and physicist Henri PoincarĂ© offer a bold statement of an idea that goes back to George Berkeley: the experience of space is grounded, finally, in our sense of our bodies, in our sense of our own degrees of freedom of movement.
Berkeley thought that touch was the spatial sense, for it was the movement sense. Vision without touch would deliver only flat pictures of the world around us.

In my work, I've been investigating the relationship people have to the places and space around them- this guy offers an interesting perspective. He proves that our connection with place does not rely on the visual landscape; place and space are much more tactile. Our sense of place develops not from the sight of a landscape, but from our physical interaction with that space.

This leads me to believe that my work needs to move toward installation and viewer participation.

The first piece of this series is a collaboration with fellow artist Jessica Scimpf, 
and will be shown at the City Arts Gallery for Artscape.

Lumber Party
City Arts Gallery
440 East Oliver Street
Opening July 9th

come lay on the lawn....

growing into sculptures

I've graduated! It's been a long time since I've posted any sort of progress, so here's what I'm working on now. My work is shifting from sedimentary geology and into botany, still focused on the moveability of landscape and the impermanence of place. I believe that plants are an excellent way to communicate these concepts; Terrariums were first used to transport plants across the Atlantic to the New World. The plants are characteristics of place (ie flora and fauna), and the ability to make them transportable or wearable seems very surreal to me, much like tectonic plate movements. There are also undertones of sustainability and urban farming that are very intriguing to me. 

These are rough ideas I'm just hashing out, stay tuned for more progress!

my window garden: watercress, basil, tomatoes, and succulents

I'm interested in the mediums plants can grow in, earth, air, and water. This species needs only a dish of water to thrive, and it's roots look like fish bones. 

Inside my succulent terrarium, stonecrop and lithops

I'm collaborating with artist Jessica Schimpf with growing in glass vessels, both found and hand blown.

These are test orbs to determine how well different plants can grow in a non draining glass shape. They're planted with gravel and vermiculite to help regulate the soil moisture inside the vessel. Above are spider plants and standard lawn grass.

 Above: Spoon Jade (E.T. Fingers) growing in soil.

Above: Spider Plant sprout growing directly in water. The roots will eventually fill the vessel.

I told myself I'd take a break from making things. Oops.


I've just been featured at, a networking site for creative professionals.
They choose a select few artworks from the thousands of images uploaded daily.
Check it out!

view my portfolio:


I'm starting work on a new series of glass planters. Normal yard grass in topsoil with gravel and vermiculite. I plan to make multiples on an installation scale.