About Emily

Artist Statement

Define, Refine, Repurpose & Reinvent Oneself…


College years
As a contemporary folk artist, I march to the beat of my own drum. Weaving watercolor and paper-cutting, I find joy as I incorporate my Pennsylvania German heritage while painting the many charms of nature. I also love color. It's like chocolate- I can never have enough..

I began painting when I was eight; my parents bought me an oil paint set. 

I grew up in the rural countryside of Pennsylvania, tucked in the Appalachian Mountains, filled with fresh sights, soothing sounds and aromatic smells; the beauty of creation inspired my artwork.  Pleasantly plump as a child with severe asthma, I was the target of bullies– art was my outlet for empowerment, achievement & success.

Middle School
8 yrs. old
High School Creations
Nature and landscapes in watercolor and oil were my focus for some time, before I transitioned into "Flags", as my mother calls them.  As a thoughtful gift, my husband told me to grab my camera and took me to an Iris farm where thousands of colored petals blanketed a very large area.  I took many pictures of the beauties in all their grandeur and was inspired to re-create the detail of the petals; countless colors with their fancy scalloped edges.

Pennies from Heaven

Sharing the Gifts II
However, in recent years as an artist, I came to a realization that I was at a point of necessary growth when I asked myself, (drum-roll please)…How are my paintings unique? I was speechless. Having no answer made me feel uncertain and insecure about my skills and direction as an artist. This moment set into action, a chain of events, some conscious decisions and others that were totally out of my control. As in science class, when one mixes oxygen with phosphorus, an explosion occurs. I didn’t blow up, but it created a new vision & clear path with a solid foundation.

Bobbin' for Berries
As innovative entrepreneurs, in collaboration with art, my husband, Monte Yellow Bird and I provide educational programs; our spring board is visual art and heritage. My husband’s pride for his Arikara culture made me question my knowledge of my heritage, or lack of. I feel, subconsciously the words we share with students had a direct impact on my artwork, “Once you know where you come from, you have a better understanding of where you’re going.” Thus, I felt a deep need to learn about the traditions of my people; Pennsylvania German AKA PA Dutch. My ancestral quest took me to the Heritage Center in Kutztown PA where I was able to fulfill a portion of the emptiness. I was introduced to Scherenschnitte, German paper cutting and Fraktur, PA German Folk-Art. I instantly made a connection with these 2 forms of expression and used them as a vehicle to drive my work into a fresh direction that was more personal to me; a unique approach which explains where I come from.  The 1st style of works emerged; horizontal and vertical watercolor with paper cuts.

Dad's Darter
While fine tuning these, more recently, the 2nd style & my favorite, naturally emerged; paper cuts with watercolor in a circular form known as the “Centripetal Satire” series.  This series was born, when during my research, I was drawn to a PA German Valentine of very fine cutwork titled “Lovebird”; colorful birds in circular columns, completed by a schoolmaster in the early 1800’s.  Putting my spin on the circle, I wrap objects with irony to tell a story with a twist. “The Many Charms of Nature; Chust fer fancy” is my exhibit of 20 works from this series.  If you enjoy treasure hunts, this exhibit is your pot of gold.  My goal as an educator is to engage and educate my audiences, sharing just a snapshot of my culture. I decided to make it interactive, paper cutting little charms as clues, accompanied with a question that will lead you on a search to learn facts about these fancy folk.  The framing is also an art.  I frame all my works which are quite laborsome and time consuming; another part of the design phase which brings the piece to life & fulfills my complete vision.

Weaving together realism with the aspects of my traditions is food for my soul, filling me with the need to learn more and share that newfound knowledge with others. It has given me a stronger self identity, awareness of the world and excitement as an artist. I have found my voice and wish to inspire others to do so.  As I continue to research my ancestors designs, it’s amazing, the comparisons I find in our artwork.  I revel at our love of flowers and birds.  Imagination, patience and embellishments are three things they impart and lastly I bring my heart. 

I Wandered With Winter

East Meets Midwest

Short-term goals: Create a traveling show, a one-person exhibit to travel libraries across the nation. 

A long-term goal: be represented by the National Folk Art Museum in New York City during a one-person exhibit.