memories

A Band of Mothers

In art, as in life, sometimes the journey leads us in unexpected directions.

Such was the case with the twentieth kimono in my series.(you can see the entire seriesand how it came to be here )It has been a long and exciting journey with some very unexpected twists and turns and as so often happens the journey has been as important as the destination. Over a year ago (evidenced by scibblings in my journal) I started entertaining a final kimono in my series, commemmorating all the mothers, in my life. I started with the most obvious: my mother, my sister, my aunts, cousins, nieces, teachers, role models, friends …….those who mothered, not only my body, but my spririt, my mind, my soul, my heart, my art. The list kept getting longer and broader until it encompassed Mother Earth herself! Symbols of so many different aspects of these mothers percolated through my thoughts, including needles, garden books , letters, photos, fabrics, even clothespins! The “stuff” increased and the imagery became more and more complicated. The world events of the past two years created a complicated backdrop that included mothers visiting their children through hospital windows during covid; the mothers and grandmothers of Ukraine and the beautiful Polish women who welcomed them into their homes; bluebirds and nuthatches in their springtime nests around our home, the novel I was reading about the women of the Great Plains, young women giving birth, family stories…..all spoke of motherhood to me. Everywhere I turned I seemed to be met by mothers and their strength and beauty.

On an unusually warm early spring day, I sat near a star magnolia in my yard, and drew.


That’s usually where my head clears best and my heart can see through the clutter. This magnolia in all its pure white beauty spoke to me of life and motherhood. The branches were twisted and complicated. Some branches bore new buds not yet open right alongside spent brown and withering flowers. Some branches even had greening leaves. “Simplify, simplify, simplify

, “the magnolia said. I drew and then started to paint. Then I painted some more. I awakened at night sure I knew what direction to take to move this painting that had no real direction into a kimono, only discovering after another day down another path, that it too was not the right one. I “auditioned” ways to develop the core painting: weaving, piecing, stenciling, quilting, stitching by hand and by machine. I ended up rejecting them all after hours of unsuccesful attempts. The process itself became an integral expression of motherhood. I felt like the birth of this kimono was unlike any I had done before. I was in a very long hard labor, knowing as mothers do, that even the pain of creating is part of the beauty of motherhood.

kimono image and magnolia flowers
For All the Mothers

The final image here was done in memory of the women (and some men) in my life that mothered me each in their own unique way. It is really very simple but has layers that probably will only be recognized by me, or some very perseptive soulmate. It has been an amazing journey as this piece came to life. Every stroke of my brush awakened another preciouos memory. I am filled with gratitude.

Will it be the last of my kimono series? At this point I am not sure. At one point I thought #10 would be the last. But they kept on coming. I hope to stay open to the possibilities of things to come………

Dusting off a memory

Dusting off a memory

There are many wonderful reasons for maintaining my website and blog but perhaps the one that brings me the most joy is like the one that happened recently.  A name appeared on a contact form in my mailbox with a fun description of some antics in a biology class in the late 70’s when I taught biology at VMA in Erie.  Several emails were exchanged and stories told of all that has transpired on both ends of the story fleshing out some old memories from long ago.  I LOVE being able to do that and to learn about where life has taken my students.  So many have found me with a google search that lead them to my website.  Some visit for a span and others have become life long friends. It happens more than I ever would have anticipated.   This particular  reunion had yet another element.  “How did you happen to look for me at this time?”  I said.  “Marie, I think of you every week when I dust a framed drawing my mother gave me in the mid-90’s!”  After I asked her to send me a photo, I was gobsmacked (have wanted to use that word!) to see a drawing I did in Holland in 1984 while on a solo backpacking trip through Europe to draw and paint and visit the museums, under the direction of my friend and mentor Frederick Franck.  So, it became a double reunion with  my student Kathy and with Femke and her mother, the models in that drawing.  Who knew that dusting could bring so much pleasure?

Several of you who will read this post were likely students of mine at some time.  If so, thank you so much for finding me.