Sometimes I begin with a clear idea of what the finished piece will look like and other times a shape, a color, a texture or an image will attract me and I’ll build the work around that. Whether I start with an overarching structure in mind or create from a detail, the narrative is paramount. It’s not a story line, but a moment of tension in the narrative.

When I wrote film scripts I had to distill the essence of the story, the dramatic arc, with plot points, moments when the action or the character goes through a change. That is one of the main differences between a novel and a play or screenplay: the distillation of the drama into its narrative skeleton. What interests me now is conveying the plot points--moments of emotional intensity, usually around a character, but sometimes around a theme. In both cases, drama is conflict, and there is always tension between two poles.

I often use double images, a woman in conflict with herself, like in the Marianne series. She is looking at something outside the frame in which her likeness was captured, and in her personal narrative, the object is either threatening or out of reach—a shard of glass, a red thorn, or a key. There is danger, both within her and outside of her, yet it is not dissonant. The harmony underlying the elements of conflict is at the root of my deepest beliefs. A life can be difficult and full of suffering, yet be harmonious within a larger context. Or, to put it another way, others sometimes see beauty where we ourselves see only pain. This has been the thematic core of my explorations recently. To express the dissonance, I find myself using materials and techniques that are not supposed to work together. The challenges inherent in this path make it all the more alluring. There is danger in straying from the path of convention, but the thrill of discovery is reward enough for the arduous path of experimentation.

My current predilection for transparencies is based on the emotional layering that they make possible: the inner landscape is partially revealed, but concealed, too, by the second or third layered image. Collage for me is more than patchwork: it’s identifying the perfection of a moment through assembling its ingredients. I feel sometimes as if I’m decoding the elements of the dramatic instant—decoding and discovering, uncovering and suggesting. Sometimes the thematic exploration is secondary to the sensual pleasure of touching the materials and orchestrating the effects. This, for me, is perhaps the most powerful drive to create.