Every day you have to abandon your past or accept it, and then if you cannot accept it you become a sculptor...
– Louise Bourgeois
Much of my work centers around feelings I have about identity and about family. This issue is complicated for me, as I was adopted. I have never been in touch with my biological family, and a period of time passed before I was placed with my adoptive family. Frequently, I start out thinking that I am working through some particular feeling about my biological family, but later come to realize that my adoptive family is the screen by which I judge all family relationships. It is impossible to separate the two.
Working with emotional material pre-dating even my own birth, I submerge myself in the painful feelings -- I sometimes sink to the bottom, unable it seems, ever to rise to the surface. My partner asks, "Why do you torture yourself?" I don't think that I am strong enough to be an artist. This job, this commitment I have made to myself to make art -- art that is as much a part of me as my hand. Art that spills the contents of my soul onto the floor.
I work from my heart. I frequently cry when I am putting a piece together. It is difficult to say what each piece means, or what each element means. I try to just move steadily forward. I typically do no sketching, no concept work, I just start with an element -- a fence, a chair, a tree. I believe in forces outside myself, they guide me. I am overwhelmed by the process, as I am overwhelmed by the reaction people have to my work. I never thought that work so personal, so full of my feelings, could touch others -- in ways, I'm sure, that are both different and similar from the ways it touches me. I was especially moved by a review in SCULPTURE Magazine: "The work included in this solo show bares Cline’s feelings and reflects her intense emotional history, but it is not sentimental; instead it is poetic and evocative, leaving much to the viewer’s own imagination. These are haunting works that one remembers long after visiting the exhibition."
I don't live with my sculptures. They sit, stacked up, in pieces in my studio. Sometimes, just being there with them can fill me with feelings of pain. They are like animals, hiding in the corners.
Most of my pieces border on monochromatic: the natural color of steel; copper sheet with a patina that darkens it to dark blue/gray with streaks of pink; walnut stained to a dark, warm brown. It's steel that speaks to me the loudest. Several years ago, I was mystified by metal. Drawn to it, but sure that I could never have what it takes to work in it. But I felt its energy, its sureness and its depth. I now find joy in the process of manipulating steel. I love the noise, the heat, the sparks, the challenge. The physical act of translating feelings into a structure is a valuable part of the process of my art. It takes strength from me and gives me strength in return.