Friday, January 22, 2016

2015 Went Out With a Bang..On the Head

Samantha Simpson, Pumpkinhead and the Egg (detail), Watercolor, 2015 

My website shows hardly any work for 2015 and unfortunately there is a very good reason for that.  I spent the summer making a book, and there are a few paintings I haven't put up there yet, but the big problem was that I sustained a major brain injury. I concussed myself, badly, doing nothing very impressive. I was sweeping up some crap off the floor and when I stood up I hit my head hard on a counter. And that started a serious four month process of healing from my third concussion.

My first concussion was in college. Bike accident: passed out, woke up, wore a neck brace for a while, done. My second was five years ago: banged my head on some scaffolding, felt sick for about a week. This one was far, far worse. I damaged my brain. I severely knocked off my vision and sense of balance. There is a pretty good article online here that talks about someone else who had a major concussion with vestibular issues: my experience was like his in many ways, but it was also better and worse. I healed much faster than him because I did vestibular therapy, which works really well. My experience was worse than his because I also had severe vision problems. I couldn't read, much less drive. Looking at anything too difficult (text, a phone, a pattern, knitting) blew out my vision almost immediately. It would double and stick that way. The combination of the vision and the vestibular issues made it difficult for me to do very specific visual tasks. My eyes didn't track well together, so I couldn't handle stripes, patterns, looking back and forth or near and far quickly, or looking at too much fine detail. I'd get a migrane, then dizziness, then my vision would blur out, then the world would start tilting and I'd have to high tail it to a dark room. Vestibular issues mean that you offload your balance problems to your visual cortex, so that you can't handle too much visual stimulus without falling over, so I was very very dizzy a lot, and I hung out in dark closets like some crazy art professor Quasimodo when I was teaching in order to reset my brain between classes. I did manage to do a few sad paintings of bruised pumpkin heads, but that's about it. It was a pretty miserable fall. (You might notice that the image above is blurry. Yeah.)

But on Tuesday I got kicked out of vision therapy. I can read, I can work on screens, I'm cleared to drive and I can do my art (Stripey! With lots of detail! And patterns!) so I'm hard at work, and so happy about it. I'm back at work on a painting I started this summer, and it's great to be at it again. 

Saturday, January 02, 2016


This year I was in Philadelphia for New Years, which meant I had the great pleasure of photographing the mummers! It is one of my favorite ways to start the new year. Enjoy.

I will post new work soon, I hope. I had an injury that messed up my vision for a while, but I'm almost done recovering and can't wait to get back in the studio.

Friday, July 31, 2015


I've got another new piece up: Apparition. You can see it larger here, and there are details that show most of the text online too...

The frog in the orange coat is a self portrait, and my husband is on the far left. Try not to make a fuss if you recognize us in the street.

The floating spaceman-creature in the clouds is from Das Triadische Ballet, a dance that was originally choreographed by Oscar Schlemmer in 1922. He also designed the costumes, which are amazing.

I had never come across it before, although many people I know had already seen it. There was a great reconstruction of the dance that was done in 1970 on youtube. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend that you get comfortable, maximize the little video below and have a look. I love it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Pattern Pieces and Pond Book

I just posted a new image to the blog: it's called Pattern Pieces, and you can see it on the website here.

I've been thinking about patterns: how they comfort and mislead us. This piece is about that idea. The blue pattern of feathers behind the swan has sewing marks.

There are two main things happening in the piece: there is the swan overlooking the frogs and flowers in a menacing fashion, and there are the frogs, who are performing a play.

The actor frogs are dressed as flowers and swans. The frogs on the bottom right of this detail are playing out the action: there is a frog who is playing a swan (fake beak, feathers) being attacked by a frog who is behind him, dressed as a flower.

The real flowers in the piece function as a chorus. They comment on the action. The flower on the right below says, "I'm not sure..." and the one on the left says, "I have been ready my whole life!"

It's been a busy summer. I made a book! It just arrived in the mail the other day, and it looks great.

The book is based on a series of paintings that I've been calling my Pond pieces. The paintings in that series play out a complex narrative about art and beauty. The structure of the book is loosely similar to that of a graphic novel: each piece is shown in such a way that the text can be read in order, so that characters and themes that repeat from piece to piece can be clearly seen in a progression. 

I'm in the proofing stage now- I made one copy of the book and so far I'm thrilled .

I'd love to send one to all the wonderful people who have supported my work, but it turns out that it's disgustingly expensive to make a nice quality art book. The next step, once I finish the final adjustments, will be to see if I can get some funding and send it around to commercial publishers. Suggestions about potential publishers or curators or gallerists who might like to see this work are more than welcome: I'm excited about what I'm making and can use any ideas about finding an audience for this work.