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Artist's statement: Fish Bone Vessels

Albacore pectoral fins (fish bones) and monofilament (fishing line) are used to create my vessel forms. In working with the bones I feel I am weaving life back into the fish, experiencing their migratory path throughout the world, only to have me send them on another journey as another form. This, in turn, sends me on travels of remembrance of the joys and tribulations of each fishing trip.

There is a respect for the powerful body of water that carries my vessel in search of the albacore. The ocean can be calm and lull you around or be angry, with winds and rain, trying to fight you every inch of the way. But there is still that magnetic field that draws me to keep fishing, playing tug-of-war with Mother Nature until finally one of us surrenders.

If I am successful I have an abundance of albacore to send on many other journeys. There is never waste – I give back to the ocean what I don’t use. I keep the meat to eat, can or smoke, and the pectoral (side) fins are transformed into beautiful magical pieces of art. I call them my ‘jewels of the sea, my vessels of remembrance.’

Before I can start weaving, the fins must be thoroughly cleaned. I cannot manipulate the bones. Some become more fibrous and extremely curly while others remain straight. It is these characteristics that dictate each bone’s individuality. Various sizes and colors of the fishing line are used, which adds translucence to the vessels creating a spiritual preciousness about them.

In the beginning the fishbone baskets were named after various “hot albacore spots” or “fishing vessels” that served me well. They are now taking on a new life form, a spiritual presence, resembling what might dwell in the depths of the ocean.

It is a very different world at sea than it is on land. When at sea the vastness and ever changing conditions constantly inspire me and keep me in awe. Nothing symbolizes tranquility more than water. It is what centers my being. This is God’s country. No land in sight. A small speck floating in the ocean. It makes me take a look at how fragile one’s existence is.


The artist, fishing for inspiration, circa 1988.