Work samples

  • Forest Royalty, 2022
    Forest Royalty, 2022 Materials: Artificial trees, plants, and moss, wood, spray foam, foam, fabric, batting, thread, plastic, beeswax, yarn, cork, beads, gemstones, paint, cardboard, and wire. Dimensions: Site-Specific Installation for the BMA. This iteration is 40 linear feet by 15 feet deep.
  • Checkmate, 2020
    Checkmate, 2020 Materials: Artificial Ivy and antique furniture Dimensions: Site-specific installation at Ladew Topiary Gardens, Oval Library
  • Oval library topiary folly, 2022
    Oval library topiary folly, 2022 Materials: Gazebo, Artificial Ivy, and Second-hand Artificial Flowers Dimensions: 9.5’ x 12.5’ x 9.5’
  • Embedded in the seed is the blossom waiting to unfold, 2020
    Embedded in the seed is the blossom waiting to unfold, 2020 Materials: Armature, Second-hand Artificial Plants, and Flowers Dimensions: 42” x 48” x 48”

About Laura

Baltimore County
In 2006, Laura Amussen received her MFA from Rinehart School of Sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art where she was awarded a Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship and Jacob K. Javits Fellowship. Since graduating she has been an active participant in Baltimore’s local art scene. She is an adjunct III faculty member at Towson University and the Maryland Institute College of Art, as well as an independent curator. She was the director of exhibitions and curator at Goucher College for over ten… more

Forest Royalty at the Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Addressed: Baker Artist Awards

In March 2020 - when Covid lockdown began - I started hiking the same five-mile trail at Loch Raven Reservoir, almost every day. This allowed me to experience the slow daily shifts of the seasons and observe the multitude of fungi that exist, often fleetingly. I hiked that trail so many times, that even in the winter, when it was snowy and the trail was gone, I mostly knew where I was going. On my way in, I would allow my mind to wander, often I would be called off trail for one reason or another, only to be rewarded by finding the most magical mushrooms. At some point, I realized I was practicing a walking meditation, an act of present moment awareness. I started noticing the smallest details, the way nature was in a constant state of flux, birth followed by death, then birth again, incessant change. Through photography, I documented the minutiae of the daily shifts occurring on the forest floor, in particular, the fungi. Once at my destination - a beautiful peninsula overlooking the top of the dam - I would meditate. I would also hug a nearby Beech tree and pray to my ancestors. On my hike out I would spend thirty minutes thinking positive affirmations and another thirty thinking about what I was grateful for. When friends hiked with me, they joined along, it was magical; each of us taking turns sharing our most vulnerable thoughts and feelings. A much-needed moment of deep connection amidst rampant Covid induced isolation. As I continued these daily self-care rituals and documenting the shifts occurring on the forest floor, something inside of me shifted as well. We're not taught how to love ourselves or how to heal from trauma. I've been doing healing work for many years; I've struggled with addiction, childhood trauma, and loss. But the healing that occurred during those daily hikes, because of my spiritual practices, was monumental. In visually creating a snapshot of this personal journey for the exhibition, Baltimore, Addressed: Baker Artist Awards at the Baltimore Museum of Art, I hope to offer the audience a place for quiet reprieve, where nature's beauty and wonder hold space for the connection and healing of all things. 

Heartfelt gratitude to the Baker Artist Awards, GBCA, the BMA, and all involved for making this project possible.  
  • Forest Royalty, 2022
    Materials: Artificial trees, plants, and moss, wood, spray foam, foam, fabric, batting, thread, plastic, beeswax, yarn, cork, beads, gemstones, paint, cardboard, and wire. Dimensions: Site-Specific Installation for the BMA. This iteration is 40 linear feet by 15 feet deep
  • Forest Royalty, 2022
    Materials: Artificial trees, plants, and moss, wood, spray foam, foam, fabric, batting, thread, plastic, beeswax, yarn, cork, beads, gemstones, paint, cardboard, and wire. Dimensions: Site-Specific Installation for the BMA. This iteration is 40 linear feet by 15 feet deep
  • Forest Royalty, 2022
    Materials: Artificial trees, plants, and moss, wood, spray foam, foam, fabric, batting, thread, plastic, beeswax, yarn, cork, beads, gemstones, paint, cardboard, and wire. Dimensions: Site-Specific Installation for the BMA. This iteration is 40 linear feet by 15 feet deep
  • Forest Royalty, 2022
    Materials: Artificial trees, plants, and moss, wood, spray foam, foam, fabric, batting, thread, plastic, beeswax, yarn, cork, beads, gemstones, paint, cardboard, and wire. Dimensions: Site-Specific Installation for the BMA. This iteration is 40 linear feet by 15 feet deep
  • Forest Royalty, 2022
    Materials: Artificial trees, plants, and moss, wood, spray foam, foam, fabric, batting, thread, plastic, beeswax, yarn, cork, beads, gemstones, paint, cardboard, and wire. Dimensions: Site-Specific Installation for the BMA. This iteration is 40 linear feet by 15 feet deep
  • Forest Royalty, 2022
    Materials: Artificial trees, plants, and moss, wood, spray foam, foam, fabric, batting, thread, plastic, beeswax, yarn, cork, beads, gemstones, paint, cardboard, and wire. Dimensions: Site-Specific Installation for the BMA. This iteration is 40 linear feet by 15 feet deep
  • Forest Royalty, 2022
    Materials: Artificial trees, plants, and moss, wood, spray foam, foam, fabric, batting, thread, plastic, beeswax, yarn, cork, beads, gemstones, paint, cardboard, and wire. Dimensions: Site-Specific Installation for the BMA. This iteration is 40 linear feet by 15 feet deep
  • Forest Royalty, 2022
    Materials: Artificial trees, plants, and moss, wood, spray foam, foam, fabric, batting, thread, plastic, beeswax, yarn, cork, beads, gemstones, paint, cardboard, and wire. Dimensions: Site-Specific Installation for the BMA. This iteration is 40 linear feet by 15 feet deep
  • Forest Royalty, 2022
    Materials: Artificial trees, plants, and moss, wood, spray foam, foam, fabric, batting, thread, plastic, beeswax, yarn, cork, beads, gemstones, paint, cardboard, and wire. Dimensions: Site-Specific Installation for the BMA. This iteration is 40 linear feet by 15 feet deep
  • Forest Royalty, 2022
    Materials: Artificial trees, plants, and moss, wood, spray foam, foam, fabric, batting, thread, plastic, beeswax, yarn, cork, beads, gemstones, paint, cardboard, and wire. Dimensions: Site-Specific Installation for the BMA. This iteration is 40 linear feet by 15 feet deep

Composters and Connectors at the Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Addressed: Baker Artist Awards

In March 2020 - when Covid lockdown began - I started hiking the same five-mile trail at Loch Raven Reservoir, almost every day. This allowed me to experience the slow daily shifts of the seasons and observe the multitude of fungi that exist, often fleetingly. I hiked that trail so many times, that even in the winter, when it was snowy and the trail was gone, I mostly knew where I was going. On my way in, I would allow my mind to wander, often I would be called off trail for one reason or another, only to be rewarded by finding the most magical mushrooms. At some point, I realized I was practicing a walking meditation, an act of present moment awareness. I started noticing the smallest details, the way nature was in a constant state of flux, birth followed by death, then birth again, incessant change. Through photography, I documented the minutiae of the daily shifts occurring on the forest floor, in particular, the fungi. Once at my destination - a beautiful peninsula overlooking the top of the dam - I would meditate. I would also hug a nearby Beech tree and pray to my ancestors. On my hike out I would spend thirty minutes thinking positive affirmations and another thirty thinking about what I was grateful for. When friends hiked with me, they joined along, it was magical; each of us taking turns sharing our most vulnerable thoughts and feelings. A much-needed moment of deep connection amidst rampant Covid induced isolation. As I continued these daily self-care rituals and documenting the shifts occurring on the forest floor, something inside of me shifted as well. We're not taught how to love ourselves or how to heal from trauma. I've been doing healing work for many years; I've struggled with addiction, childhood trauma, and loss. But the healing that occurred during those daily hikes, because of my spiritual practices, was monumental. In visually creating a snapshot of this personal journey for the exhibition, Baltimore, Addressed: Baker Artist Awards at the Baltimore Museum of Art, I hope to offer the audience a place for quiet reprieve, where nature's beauty and wonder hold space for the connection and healing of all things. 

Heartfelt gratitude to the Baker Artist Awards, GBCA, the BMA, and all involved for making this project possible.  
  • Composters and Connectors, 2022
    Digital images of fungi collected while hiking 2020 through 2022
  • Composters and Connectors, 2022
    Digital images of fungi collected while hiking 2020 through 2022
  • Composters and Connectors, 2022
    Digital images of fungi collected while hiking 2020 through 2022
  • Composters and Connectors, 2022
    Digital images of fungi collected while hiking 2020 through 2022
  • Composters and Connectors, 2022
    Digital images of fungi collected while hiking 2020 through 2022
  • Composters and Connectors, 2022
    Digital images of fungi collected while hiking 2020 through 2022
  • Composters and Connectors, 2022
    Digital images of fungi collected while hiking 2020 through 2022
  • Composters and Connectors, 2022
    Digital images of fungi collected while hiking 2020 through 2022
  • Composters and Connectors, 2022
    Digital images of fungi collected while hiking 2020 through 2022
  • Composters and Connectors, 2022
    Digital images of fungi collected while hiking 2020 through 2022

Flourish at Ladew Topiary Gardens and Manor House

While exploring Ladew Topiary Garden’s 22 acres of gardens and the historic Manor House, sculptor-in-residence, Laura Amussen found herself reminded of Mother Nature’s unwieldy propensity to consume abandoned or unattended structures and objects. In the Oval Library, a single sprig of ivy creeps through a grate on the floor. Visible through the window—just beyond the threshold—the ivy blankets the ground. Its presence threatening to overtake the inlaid drop-leaf gaming table and side chairs before making its way to the oval partner’s desk. One can easily imagine—if given time—the ivy swallowing these interior relics whole, as Mother Nature creates topiaries of Her own. Amussen’s piece Checkmate brings this playful fantasy to life. Artificial ivy spreads across the floor and over the furniture, leaving visible only traces of the structures beneath.

Taking cues from the ivy infiltrating the Oval Library, but also inspired by the follys, gardens, and topiaries found in Ladew’s gardens, Oval Library Topiary Folly, delightfully brings the inside out, a merger of both landscape and architecture. A large oval gazebo provides the framework for this structure, as again artificial ivy and flowers overtake the building. Most of these artificial flowers were bought second-hand, a deliberate choice by the artist. By using artificial plastic plant material Amussen hopes to draw attention to our worlds ecological concerns regarding plastic consumption and pollution.

Inspired by the abundance of seedpods that blanket Ladew’s Wildflower Meadow, Amussen renders the seed larger than life and draws parallels between nature and femininity, in her piece, Embedded in the seed is the blossom waiting to unfold.
  • Checkmate
    Checkmate, 2020 - Artificial Ivy - Site-specific installation. While exploring Ladew Topiary Garden’s 22 acres of gardens and the historic Manor House, sculptor-in-residence, Laura Amussen found herself reminded of Mother Nature’s unwieldy propensity to consume abandoned or unattended structures and objects. In the Oval Library, a single sprig of ivy creeps through a grate on the floor. Visible through the window—just beyond the threshold—the ivy blankets the ground. Its presence threatening to overtake the inlaid drop-leaf gaming table and side chairs before making its way to the oval partner’s desk. One can easily imagine—if given time—the ivy swallowing these interior relics whole, as Mother Nature creates topiaries of Her own. Amussen’s piece Checkmate brings this playful fantasy to life. Artificial ivy spreads across the floor and over the furniture, leaving visible only traces of the structures beneath. Photo: Joseph Hyde
  • Checkmate
    Checkmate, 2020 - Artificial Ivy - Site-specific installation. While exploring Ladew Topiary Garden’s 22 acres of gardens and the historic Manor House, sculptor-in-residence, Laura Amussen found herself reminded of Mother Nature’s unwieldy propensity to consume abandoned or unattended structures and objects. In the Oval Library, a single sprig of ivy creeps through a grate on the floor. Visible through the window—just beyond the threshold—the ivy blankets the ground. Its presence threatening to overtake the inlaid drop-leaf gaming table and side chairs before making its way to the oval partner’s desk. One can easily imagine—if given time—the ivy swallowing these interior relics whole, as Mother Nature creates topiaries of Her own. Amussen’s piece Checkmate brings this playful fantasy to life. Artificial ivy spreads across the floor and over the furniture, leaving visible only traces of the structures beneath. Photo: Joseph Hyde
  • Checkmate - chair detail
    Checkmate, 2020 - Artificial Ivy - Site-specific installation. While exploring Ladew Topiary Garden’s 22 acres of gardens and the historic Manor House, sculptor-in-residence, Laura Amussen found herself reminded of Mother Nature’s unwieldy propensity to consume abandoned or unattended structures and objects. In the Oval Library, a single sprig of ivy creeps through a grate on the floor. Visible through the window—just beyond the threshold—the ivy blankets the ground. Its presence threatening to overtake the inlaid drop-leaf gaming table and side chairs before making its way to the oval partner’s desk. One can easily imagine—if given time—the ivy swallowing these interior relics whole, as Mother Nature creates topiaries of Her own. Amussen’s piece Checkmate brings this playful fantasy to life. Artificial ivy spreads across the floor and over the furniture, leaving visible only traces of the structures beneath. Photo: Joseph Hyde
  • Oval Library Topiary Folly
    Oval Library Topiary Folly, 2020 - Gazebo, artificial ivy, second-hand artificial flowers - 9.5’ x 12.5’ x 9.5’. Taking cues from the ivy infiltrating the Oval Library, but also inspired by the follys, gardens, and topiaries found in Ladew’s gardens, Oval Library Topiary Folly, delightfully brings the inside out, a merger of both landscape and architecture. A large oval gazebo provides the framework for this structure, as again artificial ivy and flowers overtake the building. Most of these artificial flowers were bought second-hand, a deliberate choice by the artist. By using artificial plastic plant material Amussen hopes to draw attention to our worlds ecological concerns regarding plastic consumption and pollution. Photo: Joseph Hyde
  • Oval Library Topiary Folly
    Oval Library Topiary Folly, 2020 - Gazebo, artificial ivy, second-hand artificial flowers - 9.5’ x 12.5’ x 9.5’. Taking cues from the ivy infiltrating the Oval Library, but also inspired by the follys, gardens, and topiaries found in Ladew’s gardens, Oval Library Topiary Folly, delightfully brings the inside out, a merger of both landscape and architecture. A large oval gazebo provides the framework for this structure, as again artificial ivy and flowers overtake the building. Most of these artificial flowers were bought second-hand, a deliberate choice by the artist. By using artificial plastic plant material Amussen hopes to draw attention to our worlds ecological concerns regarding plastic consumption and pollution. Photo: Joseph Hyde
  • Embedded in the seed is the blossom waiting to unfold
    Embedded in the seed is the blossom waiting to unfold, 2020 - Armature, second-hand artificial plants and flowers - 42” x 48” x 48”. Inspired by the abundance of seedpods that blanket Ladew’s Wildflower Meadow, Amussen renders the seed larger than life and draws parallels between nature and femininity, in her piece, Embedded in the seed is the blossom waiting to unfold.
  • Embedded in the seed is the blossom waiting to unfold
    Embedded in the seed is the blossom waiting to unfold, 2020 - Armature, second-hand artificial plants and flowers - 42” x 48” x 48”. Inspired by the abundance of seedpods that blanket Ladew’s Wildflower Meadow, Amussen renders the seed larger than life and draws parallels between nature and femininity, in her piece, Embedded in the seed is the blossom waiting to unfold.
  • Checkmate, 2020
    Materials: Artificial Ivy on Antique Furniture Dimensions: Site-specific installation
  • Oval library topiary folly, 2022
    Materials: Gazebo, artificial ivy, second-hand artificial flowers Dimensions: 9.5’ x 12.5’ x 9.5’
  • Embedded in the seed is the blossom waiting to unfold, 2020
    Materials: Armature, second-hand artificial plants and flowers Dimensions: 42” x 48” x 48”

Nourish

"There are days I drop words of comfort on myself like falling leaves and remember that it is enough to be taken care of by myself." -Brian Andreas

Our current cultural and political climate is fraught with tension, our lives increasingly more stressful, and the world more hectic. These truths demand our constant effort and attention. Thus, it’s important - and difficult – to take time to replenish our mental, physical, and emotional reservoirs. Nature offers humanity reprieve and provides pictorial and poetic narratives: a moss blanket comforts a broken soul; a nest bursts from and engulfs a birdcage; a large-scale, site-specific, wall mounted mandala comprised of a thousand golden lotus seedpods begs the viewers to find stillness in contemplation; a wall of multicolored baskets symbolize our need to constantly hold and care for ourselves, especially when difficult life experiences arise; and, two smaller mandalas – one made of seeds, the other of Bodhi (ficus religiosa) leaf skeletons – speak of ritual and meditation. Transformed into visual expressions, materials become metaphor for these psychological associations. Each work relies on the repetition and expansion of a fundamental unit to explore the relationship of the physical to the psychological. In all the works, less is more. Spare forms and conceptual innuendo swiftly carry each work into the bio-philosophic. They establish connections between the inside and outside of the body and mind to consider our larger relationship to the natural world. The organic matter featured in this body of work metaphorically symbolize our collective human fragility; our need to be cared for and healed. 
  • "The translucent alabaster of our memories." -Marcel Proust
    "The translucent alabaster of our memories." -Marcel Proust, 2020 - Lunaria Annua (Honesty/Money Plant) Membranes on Painted Wood Panel - 36” x 36”
  • "The translucent alabaster of our memories." - Marcel Proust (study)
    "The translucent alabaster of our memories." -Marcel Proust, (study) 2018 - Lunaria Annua (Honesty/Money Plant) Membranes on Painted Wood Panel - 12" x 12"
  • Protector
    Protector, 2020 - Lunaria Annua (Honesty/Money Plant) Husks on Painted Wood Panel - 36” x 36”
  • Dark Night of the Soul
    Dark Night of the Soul, 2018 - Approximately 600 silk cocoons hand sewn on canvas. 24" x 24" x 3"
  • Awakening to Pure Consciousness
    Awakening to Pure Consciousness, 2017 Bodhi (Ficus religiosa) leaf skeletons on painted panel 36” x 36”
  • Awakening to Pure Consciousness (detail)
    Awakening to Pure Consciousness (detail), 2017 Bodhi (Ficus religiosa) leaf skeletons on painted panel 36” x 36”
  • The Essence of the Essence
    The Essence of the Essence, 2017 Lunaria annua seeds on painted panel 36” x 36”
  • The Essence of the Essence (detail)
    The Essence of the Essence, 2017 Lunaria annua seeds on painted panel 36” x 36”
  • Rising from a Dark Place
    Rising from a Dark Place, 2017 Gold lotus seed pods and metal rods Site-specific installation: dimensions variable (This iteration: 96” diameter x 4” deep)
  • Rising from a Dark Place (detail)

Nourish II

"There are days I drop words of comfort on myself like falling leaves and remember that it is enough to be taken care of by myself." -Brian Andreas


Our current cultural and political climate is fraught with tension, our lives increasingly more stressful, and the world more hectic. These truths demand our constant effort and attention. Thus, it’s important - and difficult – to take time to replenish our mental, physical, and emotional reservoirs. Nature offers humanity reprieve and provides pictorial and poetic narratives: a moss blanket comforts a broken soul; a nest bursts from and engulfs a birdcage; a large-scale, site-specific, wall mounted mandala comprised of a thousand golden lotus seedpods begs the viewers to find stillness in contemplation; a wall of multicolored baskets symbolize our need to constantly hold and care for ourselves, especially when difficult life experiences arise; and, two smaller mandalas – one made of seeds, the other of Bodhi (ficus religiosa) leaf skeletons – speak of ritual and meditation. Transformed into visual expressions, materials become metaphor for these psychological associations. Each work relies on the repetition and expansion of a fundamental unit to explore the relationship of the physical to the psychological. In all the works, less is more. Spare forms and conceptual innuendo swiftly carry each work into the bio-philosophic. They establish connections between the inside and outside of the body and mind to consider our larger relationship to the natural world. The organic matter featured in this body of work metaphorically symbolize our collective human fragility; our need to be cared for and healed.
  • With Silence Comes Peace
    With Silence Comes Peace, 2020 - Buddha statue and black rosewood mala prayer beads.
  • With Emptiness Comes Fullness
    With Emptiness Comes Fullness, 2020. Raw quartz crystals, eye pillow (fabric, flax seed, lavender), and monofilament thread. 3” x 5” x 8”
  • "A bird is safe in its nest - but that is not what its wings are made for." -Amit Ray
    "A bird is safe in its nest - but that is not what its wings are made for." -Amit Ray - Vintage birdcage and twigs. 52" x 36" x 36"
  • “A bird is safe in its nest – but that is not what its wings are made for.” – Amit Ray (detail)
    “A bird is safe in its nest – but that is not what its wings are made for.” – Amit Ray (detail)
  • Most often it is our own comfort for which we are yearning
    Most often it is our own comfort for which we are yearning - Baskets. Site-specific installation, dimensions variable. (This iteration: 89" x 69" x 24")
  • Most often it is our own comfort for which we are yearning (detail)
    Most often it is our own comfort for which we are yearning (detail)
  • Nature Nurture (blanket)
    Nature Nurture (blanket) - Moss and lichen on fabric. 5'4" diameter, my height.
  • Nature Nurture (blanket) (detail)
    Nature Nurture (blanket) (detail)
  • Nature Nurture I (photo)
    Nature Nurture I (photo)
  • Nature Nurture IV (photo)
    Nature Nurture IV (photo)

AFLOAT I

"The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace"                                                                                                          -Kate Chopin, The Awakening

As the former director of exhibitions and curator at Goucher College, I gained invaluable experience and insight pertinent to artistic and curatorial practice. As an artist, I brought that knowledge with me to the cavernous main gallery space of Baltimore's Creative Alliance. By applying a curatorial approach to my artwork, I used the gallery as a laboratory through which to experiment with process and work through ideas. This work came from an honest, tender and vulnerable place. AFLOAT is the culmination of my personal experiences over a 75 month period, including the end of a 17 year marriage, coming to terms with my sexuality, and the death of my mother. By way of sculpture, site-specific installation, photography, projection, video, and performance AFLOAT gives physical expression to what it means to carry mental and emotional baggage--the psychological jumble we accumulate, the worries, the burdens, the weight. Using water and a wide variety of elements associated with water, the works symbolize struggle and survival; they speak to being saved and saving oneself.
  • AFLOAT at The Creative Alliance
    Gallery installation view of AFLOAT, a solo exhibition at The Creative Alliance.
  • CAUGHT
    Drift wood, netting, Seventy-five 5" x 7" canvases. Dimensions variable.
  • CAUGHT
    Drift wood, netting, Seventy-five 5" x 7" canvases. Dimensions variable
  • CAUGHT (detail)
    Drift wood, netting, Seventy-five 5" x 7" canvases. Dimensions variable
  • SHIFT
    Ten canvases, each 8" x 24" x 1.5", tissue paper, natural materials. Dimensions variable
  • VAST and DRYLAND
    VAST, Large scale photograph, approx: 6000 metal rim tags, and nails. 5.75' x 16’ x 1” DRYLAND, Sand and wood. 4” x 16' x 6' A large scale photograph of the ocean was punched into nearly 6000 circles, adhered to metal rimmed tags, then hung on individual nails. At a distance, VAST is a wall of water that alludes to glints of sun reflecting off the surface of the ocean. Each image hangs loosely on a nail; the slightest breeze creates a moving and shimmering effect.
  • VAST (detail)
    VAST, Photograph, approx: 6000 metal rim tags, and nails. 5.75' x 16’ x 1” A large scale photograph of the ocean was punched into nearly 6000 circles, adhered to metal rimmed tags, then hung on individual nails. At a distance, VAST is a wall of water that alludes to glints of sun reflecting off the surface of the ocean. Each image hangs loosely on a nail, the slightest breeze creates a moving and shimmering effect.
  • BRINK (footprints)
    Footprint remnants from seventy-five minute performance.
  • BRINK (performance documentation)
    Video of performance during opening reception of AFLOAT. Duration 75 minutes. Performers: Laura Amussen and Jes Contro. Looking out over the vast ocean, two lovers stand hand in hand on the brink of something new. Video: Ben Andrew. https://vimeo.com/80073397

AFLOAT II

"The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace"     -Kate Chopin, The Awakening

As the former director of exhibitions and curator at Goucher College, I gained invaluable experience and insight pertinent to artistic and curatorial practice. As an artist, I brought that knowledge with me to the cavernous main gallery space of Baltimore's Creative Alliance. By applying a curatorial approach to my artwork, I used the gallery as a laboratory through which to experiment with process and work through ideas. This work came from an honest, tender and vulnerable place. AFLOAT is the culmination of my personal experiences over a 75 month period, including the end of a 17 year marriage, coming to terms with my sexuality, and the death of my mother. By way of sculpture, site-specific installation, photography, projection, video, and performance AFLOAT gives physical expression to what it means to carry mental and emotional baggage--the psychological jumble we accumulate, the worries, the burdens, the weight. Using water and a wide variety of elements associated with water, the works symbolize struggle and survival; they speak to being saved and saving oneself.
  • AFLOAT
    Wood, 75 life jackets. 18” x 8’ x 8’ Sculpture used to shoot video ADRIFT at Rocky Point Park.
  • ADRIFT (video/performance still)
    ADRIFT (video/performance still)
  • ADRIFT
    Video: Floating on a raft at Rocky Point Park. (Video: Jes Contro, Editing: Travis Levasseur)
  • UNTITLED 1-14
    "...deceptively revealing. They show a nude woman in what appears to be a swimming pool, but there’s nothing about the imagery that feels like a playful summer frolic. In one, the woman floats face down, a life jacket nearby. Slowly, you notice that, though it’s clear the photos were taken at a pool, they’re composed in such a way that the water swallows the frame: There is no visible avenue of escape. These are images of a human lost at sea with no safe harbor in sight." Bret McCabe Photographed by: Jes Contro
  • WEIGHT
    "...a mixed-media sculpture of rust-covered floats, ropes, and pulleys, is an iceberg of dread. A single rope extends up the wall, like a vine crawling upward. Toward the floor the rope runs into a knot of other lines which are connected to rusted floats that sit in a pile on the floor. It looks like something reclaimed from a naval graveyard and it conveys an overwhelming heaviness, and not merely as a pun: the rust indicative of something that has endured what life has tossed at the cost of how it looks, the puddle of flotation devices on the floor implying a tarnished buoyancy." Bret McCabe
  • WEIGHT (pulley detail)
    "...a mixed-media sculpture of rust-covered floats, ropes, and pulleys, is an iceberg of dread. A single rope extends up the wall, like a vine crawling upward. Toward the floor the rope runs into a knot of other lines which are connected to rusted floats that sit in a pile on the floor. It looks like something reclaimed from a naval graveyard and it conveys an overwhelming heaviness, and not merely as a pun: the rust indicative of something that has endured what life has tossed at the cost of how it looks, the puddle of flotation devices on the floor implying a tarnished buoyancy." Bret McCabe
  • TANDEM-ANCHOR
    "a rectangle of salt on the floor creates a white beach screen, onto which a pair of ceiling mounted projectors stream images of water’s surface. Embedded in the salt sand is an anchor, a single line tethers it to a pair of life jackets sewn together. The untitled photos and the videos present a single character involved in the world Amussen creates for this exhibition; this piece is the only one where the suggestion of another person enters the picture. And it’s not quite clear how that other figures into the struggle: Is that other the person keeping you from drowning or the one pulling you down? “TANDEM/ANCHOR” doesn't say, but what it implies about relationships is pretty obvious to anybody who has spent any time in an unhealthy one. At some point you’re going to have to decide: hold on for dear life or save yourself and cut the rope." Bret McCabe
  • TANDEM ANCHOR (Detail)
    Tandem Anchor (Detail) - "a rectangle of salt on the floor creates a white beach screen, onto which a pair of ceiling mounted projectors stream images of water’s surface. Embedded in the salt sand is an anchor, a single line tethers it to a pair of life jackets sewn together. The untitled photos and the videos present a single character involved in the world Amussen creates for this exhibition; this piece is the only one where the suggestion of another person enters the picture.

AFLOAT III

"The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace"                                                                                                             -Kate Chopin,The Awakening

As the former director of exhibitions and curator at Goucher College, I gained invaluable experience and insight pertinent to artistic and curatorial practice. As an artist, I brought that knowledge with me to the cavernous main gallery space of Baltimore's Creative Alliance. By applying a curatorial approach to my artwork, I used the gallery as a laboratory through which to experiment with process and work through ideas. This work came from an honest, tender and vulnerable place. AFLOAT is the culmination of my personal experiences over a 75 month period, including the end of a 17 year marriage, coming to terms with my sexuality, and the death of my mother. By way of sculpture, site-specific installation, photography, projection, video, and performance AFLOAT gives physical expression to what it means to carry mental and emotional baggage--the psychological jumble we accumulate, the worries, the burdens, the weight. Using water and a wide variety of elements associated with water, the works symbolize struggle and survival; they speak to being saved and saving oneself.
  • UNTITLED 1
    "...deceptively revealing. They show a nude woman in what appears to be a swimming pool, but there’s nothing about the imagery that feels like a playful summer frolic. In one, the woman floats face down, a life jacket nearby. Slowly, you notice that, though it’s clear the photos were taken at a pool, they’re composed in such a way that the water swallows the frame: There is no visible avenue of escape. These are images of a human lost at sea with no safe harbor in sight." Bret McCabe Photographed by: Jes Contro
  • UNTITLED 2
    "...deceptively revealing. They show a nude woman in what appears to be a swimming pool, but there’s nothing about the imagery that feels like a playful summer frolic. In one, the woman floats face down, a life jacket nearby. Slowly, you notice that, though it’s clear the photos were taken at a pool, they’re composed in such a way that the water swallows the frame: There is no visible avenue of escape. These are images of a human lost at sea with no safe harbor in sight." Bret McCabe Photographed by: Jes Contro
  • UNTITLED 3
    "...deceptively revealing. They show a nude woman in what appears to be a swimming pool, but there’s nothing about the imagery that feels like a playful summer frolic. In one, the woman floats face down, a life jacket nearby. Slowly, you notice that, though it’s clear the photos were taken at a pool, they’re composed in such a way that the water swallows the frame: There is no visible avenue of escape. These are images of a human lost at sea with no safe harbor in sight." Bret McCabe Photographed by: Jes Contro
  • UNTITLED 4
    "...deceptively revealing. They show a nude woman in what appears to be a swimming pool, but there’s nothing about the imagery that feels like a playful summer frolic. In one, the woman floats face down, a life jacket nearby. Slowly, you notice that, though it’s clear the photos were taken at a pool, they’re composed in such a way that the water swallows the frame: There is no visible avenue of escape. These are images of a human lost at sea with no safe harbor in sight." Bret McCabe Photographed by: Jes Contro
  • UNTITLED 5
    "...deceptively revealing. They show a nude woman in what appears to be a swimming pool, but there’s nothing about the imagery that feels like a playful summer frolic. In one, the woman floats face down, a life jacket nearby. Slowly, you notice that, though it’s clear the photos were taken at a pool, they’re composed in such a way that the water swallows the frame: There is no visible avenue of escape. These are images of a human lost at sea with no safe harbor in sight." Bret McCabe Photographed by: Jes Contro
  • UNTITLED 6
    "...deceptively revealing. They show a nude woman in what appears to be a swimming pool, but there’s nothing about the imagery that feels like a playful summer frolic. In one, the woman floats face down, a life jacket nearby. Slowly, you notice that, though it’s clear the photos were taken at a pool, they’re composed in such a way that the water swallows the frame: There is no visible avenue of escape. These are images of a human lost at sea with no safe harbor in sight." Bret McCabe Photographed by: Jes Contro
  • UNTITLED 7
    "...deceptively revealing. They show a nude woman in what appears to be a swimming pool, but there’s nothing about the imagery that feels like a playful summer frolic. In one, the woman floats face down, a life jacket nearby. Slowly, you notice that, though it’s clear the photos were taken at a pool, they’re composed in such a way that the water swallows the frame: There is no visible avenue of escape. These are images of a human lost at sea with no safe harbor in sight." Bret McCabe Photographed by: Jes Contro
  • UNTITLED 8
    "...deceptively revealing. They show a nude woman in what appears to be a swimming pool, but there’s nothing about the imagery that feels like a playful summer frolic. In one, the woman floats face down, a life jacket nearby. Slowly, you notice that, though it’s clear the photos were taken at a pool, they’re composed in such a way that the water swallows the frame: There is no visible avenue of escape. These are images of a human lost at sea with no safe harbor in sight." Bret McCabe Photographed by: Jes Contro
  • UNTITLED 9
    "...deceptively revealing. They show a nude woman in what appears to be a swimming pool, but there’s nothing about the imagery that feels like a playful summer frolic. In one, the woman floats face down, a life jacket nearby. Slowly, you notice that, though it’s clear the photos were taken at a pool, they’re composed in such a way that the water swallows the frame: There is no visible avenue of escape. These are images of a human lost at sea with no safe harbor in sight." Bret McCabe Photographed by: Jes Contro
  • UNTITLED 10
    "...deceptively revealing. They show a nude woman in what appears to be a swimming pool, but there’s nothing about the imagery that feels like a playful summer frolic. In one, the woman floats face down, a life jacket nearby. Slowly, you notice that, though it’s clear the photos were taken at a pool, they’re composed in such a way that the water swallows the frame: There is no visible avenue of escape. These are images of a human lost at sea with no safe harbor in sight." Bret McCabe Photographed by: Jes Contro

Indoor Sculptures and Installations I (Landscape/Architecture)

Influenced by environmental concerns as well as the rapaciousness of globalization these works encompass aspects of landscape and architecture in order to create metaphors of psychological space. In an increasingly globalized culture, a growing sense of placelessness makes it more and more difficult for us to place our own identity. These works are studies of geographic dislocation and its attendant complexities, as well as antidotes to the prevailing need to belong somewhere. In creating fictitious environments wrought with familiar details from built structures and the natural landscape the work is encoded with social and emotional values. In my restructuring of these elements, the familiar becomes unfamiliar, leading us to re-evaluate our sense of place in this energetic, overbuilt, and complex world. These fictitious environments blur the boundaries between landscape and architecture and scramble the distinctions between organic and synthetic. Ambiguous in nature they explore the experience of place - the accumulated life experiences of geographical places and psychological spaces.
  • Isolated Proliferation
    Styrofoam, Rust, and Artificial Thistle Plants. 36" x 48" x48" Inspired by environmental concerns about our worlds water and the impending water shortage this sculpture references a dried up water well, the interior of which has been overcome by thistle weeds creating a psychological metaphor of isolation and danger.
  • Isolated Proliferation (detail)
    Styrofoam, Rust, and Artificial Thistle Plants. 36" x 48" x48" Inspired by environmental concerns about our worlds water and the impending water shortage this sculpture references a dried up water well, the interior of which has been overcome by thistle weeds creating a psychological metaphor of isolation and danger.
  • Rapacious Cultivation
    Pre-fabricated greenhouses, artificial plants and flowers, foam, fake soil, plastic containers. Deconstructed multiple artificial plants and flowers to create different varieties of fictitious carnivorous plants based on real ones. The plants serve as a psychological metaphor for desire and hunger; the greenhouses foster the growth of a ravenous appetite.
  • Rapacious Cultivation
    Pre-fabricated greenhouses, artificial plants and flowers, foam, fake soil, plastic containers. Deconstructed multiple artificial plants and flowers to create different varieties of fictitious carnivorous plants based on real ones. The plants serve as a psychological metaphor for desire and hunger; the greenhouses foster the growth of a ravenous appetite.
  • Royal Pine
    1700+ hand cut pine scented air fresheners. 3’ x 14’ x 2’ Sculpture, referencing a topographical mountain range. Smelly indeed.
  • Royal Pine (detail)
    1700+ hand cut pine scented air fresheners. 3’ x 14’ x 2’ Sculpture, referencing a topographical mountain range. Smelly indeed.
  • Habitat, (end view)
    8' x 24' x 7' I created Habitat, a site-specific and site-responsive installation, for the Mezzanine Gallery at Appalachian State Universities Turchin Center for the Visual Arts. For this installation material, environment, form, and local ecology are united, creating an immersive experience within the gallery where sculpture and space appear to merge. Inspired by the endangered spruce-fir moss spider and its habitat, the piece draws on aspects of environmental concern as well as expresses local ecological properties. Found in Watauga County at elevations above five thousand feet on Grandfather Mountain, this tiny spider from the tarantula family lives on rocky outcroppings that are covered with moss. The moss provides essential moisture, food and shade creating a healthy environment for these endangered spiders to flourish. However, the thinning of the spruce-fir tree is adversely affecting the ecosystem due to the diminishing canopy that once protected this fragile habitat.
  • Habitat, (side view)
    8' x 24' x 7' I created Habitat, a site-specific and site-responsive installation, for the Mezzanine Gallery at Appalachian State Universities Turchin Center for the Visual Arts. For this installation material, environment, form, and local ecology are united, creating an immersive experience within the gallery where sculpture and space appear to merge. Inspired by the endangered spruce-fir moss spider and its habitat, the piece draws on aspects of environmental concern as well as expresses local ecological properties. Found in Watauga County at elevations above five thousand feet on Grandfather Mountain, this tiny spider from the tarantula family lives on rocky outcroppings that are covered with moss. The moss provides essential moisture, food and shade creating a healthy environment for these endangered spiders to flourish. However, the thinning of the spruce-fir tree is adversely affecting the ecosystem due to the diminishing canopy that once protected this fragile habitat.
  • The Empty Space Between Us
    Styrofoam, Rust, and Pipe. 5' x 5' x 4' (x2) Site-responsive installation, a metaphor of psychological space. Here my interest lies in relationships and the tensions that occur within them. This two-part piece resembles rocky outcropping found in the Southwestern United States deserts, while simultaneously referencing balconies, and overlooks. The positioning of the pieces is crucial to an understanding of the title. Here the empty space of the gallery between the two works becomes a metaphor for, "The Empty Space Between Us".
  • The Empty Space Between Us (scale)
    Styrofoam, Rust, and Pipe. 5' x 5' x 4' (x2) Site-responsive installation, a metaphor of psychological space. Here my interest lies in relationships and the tensions that occur within them. This two-part piece resembles rocky outcropping found in the Southwestern United States deserts, while simultaneously referencing balconies, and overlooks. The positioning of the pieces is crucial to an understanding of the title. Here the empty space of the gallery between the two works becomes a metaphor for, "The Empty Space Between Us".

Outdoor Sculptures and Installations

  • Verve
    Bamboo, metal armature, and wire. 14' x 16' x 3.5' Site-specific installation, created for Johns Hopkins Universities Evergreen House. In order to bring people together to enjoy and promote the arts former Evergreen matron, Alice Warder Garrett converted the gymnasium into a private theater. Here she entertained friends with her own performances as well as hosted the Musical Art Quartet every spring and fall for nearly two decades. An arch stenciled by Leon Baskt, the celebrated set and costume designer for the Ballet Russes, acts as the facade for Alice's stage and is echoed throughout much of the architecture at Evergreen House. My outdoor theater for Alice reflects her verve and was inspired by the relationship between art and nature. Bamboo, which is known for its abundant growth and astonishing vitality, grows on the grounds at Evergreen House and symbolizes to me Alice's long-standing promotion of the arts in Baltimore and beyond. Performance by dancer Andrea Workman.
  • Verve (performance: dancer, Andrea Workman)
    Bamboo, metal armature, and wire. 14' x 16' x 3.5' Site-specific installation, created for Johns Hopkins Universities Evergreen House. In order to bring people together to enjoy and promote the arts former Evergreen matron, Alice Warder Garrett converted the gymnasium into a private theater. Here she entertained friends with her own performances as well as hosted the Musical Art Quartet every spring and fall for nearly two decades. An arch stenciled by Leon Baskt, the celebrated set and costume designer for the Ballet Russes, acts as the facade for Alice's stage and is echoed throughout much of the architecture at Evergreen House. My outdoor theater for Alice reflects her verve and was inspired by the relationship between art and nature. Bamboo, which is known for its abundant growth and astonishing vitality, grows on the grounds at Evergreen House and symbolizes to me Alice's long-standing promotion of the arts in Baltimore and beyond. Performance by dancer Andrea Workman.
  • Burst
  • Burst (detail)
  • Seed
  • Seed (side view)
  • The Peterson's, The Enwhistle's, The Winkler's, The Facade
    Pre-fabricated Greenhouse, Artificial Trees, Plants, Flowers, Pots, Fake Soil, and Shelves. 8' x 6' x 8' Inspired by the onslaught of spousal murders which captured the attention of the media. In each of these three cases, the Peterson's, the Entwistle's and the Winkler's, families and friends were shocked by the murders. Each family did a very good job at keeping up appearances in other words, creating a fantastic fake facade which masked the turmoil that grew within.
  • The Peterson's, The Entwhistle's, The Winkler's, (The Facade), detail
    Pre-fabricated Greenhouse, Artificial Trees, Plants, Flowers, Pots, Fake Soil, and Shelves. 8' x 6' x 8' Inspired by the onslaught of spousal murders which captured the attention of the media. In each of these three cases, the Peterson's, the Entwistle's and the Winkler's, families and friends were shocked by the murders. Each family did a very good job at keeping up appearances in other words, creating a fantastic fake facade which masked the turmoil that grew within.
  • Topotecture
    Topotecture, (aerial view) 2007 Different sized painted bamboo trellises. Dimensions Variable. Site-responsive installation, simultaneously evokes landscape and architecture installed at American University, Katzen Center.
  • Topotecture, aerial view
    Topotecture, (aerial view) 2007 Different sized painted bamboo trellises. Dimensions Variable. Site-responsive installation, simultaneously evokes landscape and architecture installed at American University, Katzen Center.