Artists Make Altars
This work was exhibited in an exhibition at Long View Gallery, a project of The Collector’s Gallery in Raleigh, NC in spring 2008. Adele Wayman also curated the exhibit which also included altars by Bryant Holsenbeck, Mary Love May, Beatrice Schall and Melissa York.

I believe that altars are alive. They have the potential to generate change in the real world. I began creating altars in my studio as this conviction grew and the process seeded the idea for this exhibition and a new direction in my work. My intent is to show that an artist’s altar is a place to make explicit that which is often implicit in an artist’s work – that making art is a sacred practice.

I believe that an altar can be an energized ceremonial place of focus, where we can connect with the mystery of the unfolding life process and to the deep human impulse to find out who we are, why we are here, why we die and what it all means.

I keep a personal studio altar that changes daily, as it evolves from and influences changes in my life and art. I light incense and sound a bell on the altar as I begin my daily Buddhist meditation. My kind of meditation practice is just sitting with no object of focus. As I become still, I open to what arises, chatter, emptiness, boredom, inspiration, all of it. The altars are not just or traditionally Buddhist, but they do incorporate Zen Buddhist imagery and ways of understanding. I see my art practice as parallel to my formal meditation, a more active way to investigate cause and effect and meaning in the world.

I pay attention to the process of how the altars create themselves as they constantly change in form and intent. I find something on a walk in the woods - a milkweed pod, falling red maple leaves, dark red wicked thorns; or at the flea market – a bit of lace or needlework, copper plate or beads. What I gather connects with my musings about life and my meditation. Back in the studio, I paint the leaves, seeds or thorns on small panels or canvases, place them on lace or peeling wood and they become part of the wall altars (“wallters”, my friend Anne calls them). Several of these have evolved into human images, often women, whose heart, head and bodies are suggested by bits of nature, lace or small paintings.

One of these altars was originally conceived as an illustration for a book by Patti Digh, 37 Days, which will be published this fall.  To find out more about the book and enjoy Patti Digh’s award winning blog of the same name, go to


For purchasing information please contact the artist.