W. A. Whipple, Restless Artist

I am a lot of things, but at the heart of it, it’s more about what I do than who I am: I create. I photograph, sometimes dis- and re-assembling the photos. I sew, often recycling old things to make new ones. I write, shaping words to tell stories or inform. (Sometimes when I’m feeling especially inspired, I combine all three of those at once.) Honestly, I can’t not create; it’s genuinely painful to stay away from working with my hands on something for too long, like an itch in my brain I can’t reach.

Art is what you make it. You can go out and spend fabulous amounts of money on materials for whatever you’re making – for some things (like, say, a wedding gown, or a painting you want to last for generations), that may be your only option. OR, you can salvage something and remake it.

This was an experimental Art Doll that didn’t quite work out. “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.” I’m sorry the form didn’t work, but I’m glad I made the attempt – I learned it didn’t work! If I had never tried, I would have always wondered whether or not it would have worked and it would have nagged me, like sand in my shoe. I tried it, it didn’t work, and I can move on to something else.

Nearly everyone has heard the phrase One person’s trash is another’s treasure, and I can tell you that it’s true. I have repurposed plenty of things and made them new, found ways to rethink what I had on hand or to make do for whatever thing I was working on at the moment, and found ways to take a photo that was otherwise unremarkable and make it something special.

This is an example of trash-to-treasure. The bar-shaped object in the lower part of the wall-hanging is a rusted piece of what was probably a mower blade that I found in the Middle Fork Vermilion River. I’d had it for years, not knowing what I was going to do with it when I had this inspiration. There is also a Sandhill Crane feather (center), a Red-tailed Hawk feather (right), pieces of paperbark birch bark that blew into the yard after a storm (top), and the stick is a weathered branch from our hedge. There’s also assorted natural seed beads and sea urchin spine beads, making this a very elemental piece, even if it looks like autumn.

I’m also a parent, and my time is not always my own. The time I devote to creative pursuits is a needed outlet, and I’m not always able to take commissions when I’d like because of other demands. Just remember, if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.