"I was born in New York City and when I was six years old, my parents moved to Guatemala. My three siblings and I followed our parents around the countryside, father collecting textiles and mother photographing the...
Read Full Story
"I was born in New York City and when I was six years old, my parents moved to Guatemala. My three siblings and I followed our parents around the countryside, father collecting textiles and mother photographing the people. Their influence on us as children instilled a great appreciation for the local artistry and craftsmanship.
"Growing up in Guatemala is a wonderful source of inspiration for making things. It's not only the crafting traditions of Guatemala that you see everywhere, but also that their presence fostered a sense that if you want something, you can make it. This led to many projects as a child and gradually developed into a love of craft combined with a love of design.
"I often made toys for my younger brother and some of those are still around. I started working in both wood and photography when I was 11 or 12 years old. Now I work at my own design studio and a wood workshop. I work with seven artisans developing everything from prototypes to finished products. I have been working with some of these artisans for over 20 years. In the area of photography, I work alone - shooting, developing and printing.
"Once I asked a friend to describe me and he did it in three words, Talented, Kind, and Thoughtful. The most difficult part of my life would have to be being a single parent. It has also been an immensely rewarding experience. There were great lessons to be learned in patience, understanding, and caring.
"In my dreams I would love to create an ongoing studio and shop, which would be enticing for future generations to continue through whatever metamorphosis it should undergo to evolve. The richness in being able to create my own designs and develop them all the way through production is immensely satisfying. Having incredibly talented artisans assisting me on this journey is the icing on the cake.
"As an avid woodworker and photographer, I have my mother to thank for my interest in art. Her style was to give me just enough knowledge to get started and then let me take it as far as I wanted, an environment I thrived in.
"Most of the wood carvers I work with already have a basic command of their trade. Those that are starting out get a lot of guidance and encouragement from the more seasoned artisans. The goal in our shop is to make everyone competent and capable in all of the various techniques and phases of a project. This makes working in the shop much more interesting and this knowledge expands their abilities outside of the shop.
"Probably the single greatest input I have on the artisans is expanding their sense of what is possible, how to break from tradition, where applicable, and create beyond a limited set of parameters that they are used to and trained in. Another thing is the need to always focus on the quality of the final product.
"Family members receive a fairly similar launching as I did, and as much guidance as they want along the way. I find that allowing them to push their own boundaries, exploring, as they will, is much more stimulating to them and more likely to keep them interested in pursuing this art form. Enjoyment is high on my list for pursuing all that we do.
"Most of my learning has been self-taught. I had the advantage of having the tools needed on hand. A lot of experimentation and reading allowed me to grow in both fields and to develop a fondness for pushing my limits as far as I could.
"I get my inspiration from almost everything. Nature, the angle of the sun and the electricity in the sky – these inspire what I photograph. The sense of history, tradition, and the antiquity of our surroundings create a sense of timelessness. This, in turn, leads me to want to make items that feel as though they will be around for long time to come – inspiring what I design out of wood.
"Guatemala has a strong tradition of woodwork dating back to the colonial period with its fine carving and joinery. Many artisans still retain the custom of using all of the traditional hand tools: chisels, planes, and a myriad of other manual tools completely independent of the electrical grid."