Travis, GILDERS paste


Creating this image of Travis out of metal and finding a finish for it that would withstand being outdoors and under the Colorado sun was completely out of my comfort zone. For one, I got a D in metalsmithing in art school. Metal never does what I want it to do, or even what I imagine it is going to do. Metal is for the Janet Lewises and Rachel Dazeys of the world – badass women who work with it in their studios every day and bend it to their will. Me? I’m in love with paper. You see the difference.

I’m not a painter, either. I use paint in my work but I’m not versed in it. I don’t love color. Amy Shapley does though and she led me to GILDERS paste. GILDERS paste is a wax based medium you can apply with your fingers. It’s gorgeous. It’s fine outdoors. And it’s formulated to be UV resistant with a clear coat. I applied a color called Patina – an aged copper tone – to the Travis image. I hope it lasts 100 years.

Travis, Sandblasted


When I made the decision to remove the green paint from the Travis image, I also needed to produce a mechanical tooth to prep the surface for good adhesion of the new finish. The sandblasting process knocks loose any paint, coating, or debris and propels very fine bits of material at high-velocity to clean or etch a surface. This made sandblasting the perfect solution. I have Janet Lewis, metalsmith, to thank for the suggestion and H & H Protective Coatings to thank for the sandblasting. From here, Travis is ready for the final steps.

Travis, First Finish

Travis, Ulysses[9]Paint Version.JPG

Soon after Travis died, I adapted a version of my performance, Origin of Painting, for him. This performance was the first in a two year long series of projects to honor Travis. The original Travis image – in Origin of Painting for Travis –  was green and so were several of the other Travis images. I envisioned the Travis image for the new Ulysses Skate Park as green, too, with a pink heart to represent the pink heart Rosa drew for him after the Origin of Painting performance. My first try was fluorescent green spray paint. Paint tests revealed very quickly that fluorescent paint would not withstand Colorado sunlight. This led to a LOT of paint tests. This is the primered Travis image painted with BEHR MARQUEE Odyssey Semi-Gloss Enamel in Planet Green. The heart is the same paint in Sweet Chrysanthemum. After all that research, it didn’t work. The paint peeled and scratched too easily. “Back to the drawing board.”

Travis, Pre-Paint


This is the Travis image, pre-paint, for the new Ulysses Skate Park in Golden, Colorado. Metalsmith, Rachel Dazey, cut this tiny metal heart. The list of artists and craftspeople who contributed labor, technical advice, ideas, and love to this project is deep: Walt Delp, my ex-husband and the father of my beautiful daughters – we have a history of collaboration that bedrocks my career, Janet Lewis, the artist I go to EVERY time I want the truth about my work and process, Amy Shapley, researcher extraordinaire and idea Queen, Rachel Dazey, she stepped up with gorgeous generosity and skill, Dante’ Ivy, his heart got mixed up with the Travis heart fast, Meredith Moody, the sweetest and most informative sister on the planet, and Travis, my ancestor, lighting the whole wide way.

Memorials for Travis

Travis for Colorado[1]

This is the Travis image for Colorado. There are six spots that I will paste this image: the same spots he pasted Joses with me before he died, plus one on the trip out there – looking out over the Kansas prairie at the windmills – and one at his memorial site across the street from his mother’s house. Rosa drew the pink heart, just as she did on the Travis image at the memorial performance of Origin of Painting we did for him right after he died. I love full circles – when things come around and around. A precious circle was broken when Travis died but – image by image – this work is mending it.

Rosa and I, together in Finland

As part of my project, I love Jose, I created Joses and I and others have pasted them all over the world – including Finland. As part of Memorials for Travis, I created Travises and I and others have pasted them. On the second anniversary of Travis’ death, I am going to travel to Colorado and re-trace the steps he and I took to paste Joses together, pasting Travises in those same spots. The first two weeks of October, I am traveling to Finland, Iceland and Estonia. I am not traveling with my nine year old daughter and in her honor I am going to paste these images of her. Nine Rosas – one for each of her years so far on the planet. I’ll paste the Rosas, photograph them and email the photographs to her – so she knows she is with me wherever I go.




There is a core image for many of the projects I do in honor of my nephew, Travis, who died a year ago in March, and a core relationship between the Travis projects and my project ‘I love Jose’. As part of ‘I love Jose’, its core image, called ‘little Joses’, has been pasted in various parts of the United States and in other parts of the world.

For the next in this series of memorial projects for Travis, I took that core image from the other Travis projects and created this cut-out from sparkly teal paper. I am now pasting Travises as I pasted Joses.

Less than a year before he died, Travis helped me paste Joses in various spots in Colorado, where he lived. This summer, I will return to Colorado to re-trace the steps Travis and I took together when we pasted them. In each of these places, I will paste a Travis.

I didn’t intentionally set out to create all these circles and connections, but as these projects unfold I take comfort in this. I am grateful that I can.