The Gatherer

At long last, my copy of The Pulse of Mixed Media has arrived and I spent this evening reading through the answers that 100 artists contributed and the artwork that was created for Seth Apter’s book.

The Gatherer
encaustic mixed media

Back in 2010 Seth asked the contributing artists to create two pieces of art- one was to be a self portrait and the other one was to answer a specific question.

The Gatherer is my self portrait. The materials that went into making my self portrait include a thrift store barbie, plaster cloth, encaustic, driftwood, twigs, dried fern, and probably some other miscellaneous bits and pieces. I’m excited to finally share this piece after 2 years of waiting!

detail of back

These were my original thoughts behind my self portrait:

When I received the instructions to create a self-portrait, I immediately knew that I wanted to create a sculptural piece using encaustic and plaster. I did not know exactly what the form would be, but I allowed her to take shape organically, knowing that her form would appear and lead me to the meaning.

I have always been drawn to creating the female figure and even more specifically, the mother figure. While “The Gatherer” is not a typical mother figure, I used the nest in her hair to symbolize motherhood, creativity and fertility. My life right now is centered around my two young children, and so I wanted my self-portrait to include the concept of motherhood. But that is not the only aspect of who I am. My work is another facet of who I am. And in my work I see myself as a gatherer. I collect images from the world around me as well as materials that I come across and incorporate them in my mixed media work. I like to think that being a mother and an artist are similar. Both are roles that involve nurturing and creativity…as well as managing controlled chaos!

Her organic shape and surface also capture what I strive to create in my work, whether it is in encaustic or acrylic. Nature and the passage of time are constant themes in my work and I wanted to capture that in the colors and crevices of her form. A desire for roots and rootedness is another theme in my work and the sticks that form the bottom of her skirt speak to that desire. The sticks are all from my hikes and walks and I can tell you where each of those sticks came from. Every detail of my work is a personal part of my history. I consider all of my artwork self-portraits in that sense. All speak to an aspect of who I am, either through personal history or questions that I am seeking answers to.


When I had to sit down and create the pieces for Seth’s book I knew immediately what I wanted to do- and the interesting thing though was that they are both 3-dimensional pieces, not what I normally do. You would think that I would stick to my “normal” thing when asked to contribute work for a book! I guess, from my recent paintings, I like to switch things up from time to time. Keeps me on my toes.

I saw it as an exciting opportunity and excuse to try things that have been on the back burner. Things that I want to do, but never give myself time for. Well, I’m glad I had the excuse to do them.


  1. Bridgette I am glad that you had an excuse to do that art piece too! It is so tremendous. I love hearing the story of her. The personal meaning and yet there is tons of room to impose or project my meaning for me. And for others’ as well I bet. This is a stunning piece of art. The delicate fern frond[s] placed along the spine speak to the delicate interconnectedness of the spine. Nature has patterns. *smiles* Norma

  2. Nature is a big pull for me and a big inspiration in my own work. I love that you stepped outside the ‘norm’ to create this piece that is so beautifully executed. Seth’s book made me think how I would represent myself as a self portrait . . . I too was thinking sculptural although I never created a sculptural piece before. Maybe I’ll be inspired to try something new.

  3. oh! be still my rusty metal loving heart. dare I say it, my friend? that you’ve stepped over to the dark side and embraced your metallurgical self?! 😉

    my only regret is having not put on my big girl panties and joined in this wonderful party.

    awesome piece.

  4. A million thanks to you Bridgette for creating this piece and allowing me to place it on the pages of my book. These images here show how wonderful this piece is but I bet it is even more spectacular in person. I hope one day to be able to actually see it!

  5. What wonderful ‘experiments’ though they appear as natural as your two dimensional language…I love that they have been incubating…or we might say…gestating… for two years. Beautiful that they are just now coming out to greet the world…in the spring…
    mothers of the world.

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