My earliest memories – after I gained freedom to wander the neighborhood each day – were my visits to construction sites.  There was a post World War II construction boom going on in Washington, D.C.  Nearly every neighborhood had empty lots that were being excavated for new homes.  Conveniently, two houses went up slowly and surely in the woodsy lot across the street from us.  I spent many days and weeks watching the patient, repetitive efforts of the crews of workers.  I got to know each person by name and they, me.  The workers that pulled up in dusty trucks each day were exotic to me and their collaborative work ethic was totally different from my own family of artists and intellectuals.  These guys had a specific job to do; they did it and got back in their trucks and drove away.  Those workers participated in building something, brick by brick, that would last.  That caught my imagination and stayed with me over the years.

I continued to visit construction sites as a mother and took the kids along.  Their earliest memories are also of visiting construction sites.  Then came the angry days of women’s liberation and I found I was no longer welcome at sites; or maybe it was that the foremen were suspicious that I was a construction firm spy, or some other reason.  Anyway, I no longer felt welcome, so I stopped going for ten years or so.

\"Off Site!\"“Off Site!”

(I came across this image, painted long ago, when I occasionally got booted from construction sites.  I could understand; no hard hat.)

Then, in the nineties, I had an idea.  I would take my sketching materials and sit on the hood of my car.  Who would think me a spy?  Out of those visits came the traveling show, “Construction Sights.”

“Dirty Fingernails”  (This was the piece I started that first day sitting on the hood of my car.  I will admit to you, dirty fingernails was a personal trait of mine.  I was often startled by shrieks from adults, “Look at those fingernails!!”.  Were it not for washing dishes, I would still have this particular carelessness.)

“Breakfast by the Jackhammers” (I combined people from a Washington, D.C., coffee shop with those I saw in Wisconsin.  These drawings are on transparencies, reproduced in different sizes and layers to give the collage depth and to simulate the vibrations, of course.)

“After Hours”

I came to know myself better with this show and realized that I see my own paintings as “watercolor constructions” – whether the subject matter was a construction site or a person sitting reading a book.  The collaborative work ethic, for me, involved including all the parts of myself in the effort.