After living for 50 years in New York City, we moved at the end of January, 2020, into a Quaker retirement community in southeastern Pennsylvania. A lifelong association with Quaker schools had prompted us to seek a progressive community that was based on values of engagement, equality, generosity, lifelong learning, wellness, integrity, and environmental stewardship. At Kendal-Crosslands, we have found all that and more, including the rich artistic community that exists throughout the Brandywine Valley. We are so pleased with our new community that we even moved my 96 year old mother from Cape Cod into the assisted living section on our campus.
Our 500 acres serve as endless inspiration. We have streams, open meadows, wooded hills, and many species of wildlife. We regularly see fox, deer, hawks, flickers, bluebirds, turkey vultures, and woodpeckers. We feast daily on a buffet of natural resources. Because my academic background is both biology and the fine arts, my life has two deep roots: science and art. We live in a paradise of possibility for exploring both passions.
We had just begun to acquaint ourselves with our new community when Covid-19 impacted the world. Our campus went into lock down, and our horizons became very limited. My studio quickly became a sanctuary. Soon after the lock down, however, my husband became very ill (He is okay now!), and our life was severely restricted for six months. During that dark time, I could not be in my studio, and there was no room to paint in our new apartment.
I knew I should not stop working on my art, so I returned to a childhood activity that had sustained me when I had been ill as a child. My mother taught me how to use a sewing machine, and it has been a skill that I have used many times since. I set up my sewing machine on our kitchen table, and I started to sew my paintings. I made a series of collages that I stitched together. No glue. No paint. Just thread, paper, and stitches. From my studio stash, I foraged scraps of paper that I had saved for their beauty. I also cut up my old paintings and journal entries. All of the fragments were mended into a new whole. I felt a deep connection to the process.
The sound of the sewing machine was soothing, and its repetitive motion was meditative. Many associations arose to other parts of my life. Threads connected me to my childhood and to women through the ages. Stitching is women’s work. Women have always mended. They mend hurt feelings, torn clothing, scraped knees, relationships. Stitches are used to close wounds and to reclaim and reassemble fragments.
I could feel the mending process working inside of me. Through the work, I began to heal. As with all honest art, I was able to express my fears, frustrations, and confusion in the pieces I was creating. I found myself empathizing with women throughout history who have needed to remain steadfast during difficult times. I also reconnected to additional roots in my life - feminism and perseverance.
I continue to grow and learn.
I have always loved to write. I have also always loved to make art. Therefore, I am embarking on a new journey. I’m going to write about my art making. I have no idea where I will end up. I haven’t chosen a destination or even a road on which to travel. It just feels right to get going. In terms of the frequency of my blogging, I promise that I will post periodically. As I get the feel of the thing, I may post according to a specific schedule. Right now, I have so much artistically on my mind that I'm sure my posts will be frequent.
Although 12/26/20 is the formal start of my blog, I took my first baby steps on this project in the fall of 2019. I had just found a beautiful new studio 10 minutes away from where we would be relocating. It seemed appropriate to inaugurate my practice in the new studio with daily art writing. For several months after signing my lease, I did a free-write for 15 minutes every time I entered the studio. It helped me focus, cleared my head, and gave me a record of my thinking. However, I found it frustrating that I had to carry the journal with me in order to have access to it when and wherever I wanted. I abandoned the notebook and began looking for a better vehicle to combine art and writing. Switching to an electronic, online blog platform seemed very appealing. A blog is portable and it allows one to include photos. Fortunately, my art website could be upgraded to include a blog. My web designer set it up, and this is my first piece of blog writing.
As I write and make art, I hope to engage readers in a dialogue about my art and art in general. I look forward to taking the journey with you.
Welcome! With the approaching close of this challenging year, I welcome this new beginning as an opportunity to share some of my thoughts and creative processes with you.
I work intuitively, utilizing whatever will help me realize my vision — paint, wood, ink, paper, precious stones and metals, resin, and found objects. I consciously rescue what I include — what others might call detritus. I repurpose my discarded paintings and drawings as readily as the eroded sea shells that I have foraged, paper scraps I have carefully collected, frayed pieces of fabric, and snippets of my memories. I give new life to these treasures by highlighting the beauty I perceive in their insignificance. The act of rescue becomes my embrace of Earth and all that is fragile.
Let’s welcome new beginnings together!