Written on the Body
The first angel was an accident. Or I could say she just arrived. I was in a dark place. The angels that followed were like the work I’d done years before, of demons and almost-humans that reflected my life and observations and what came to me in the night. I had always put my life on paper, pulling the terrible out of me so I could breathe. At first, my angels were mostly fallen angels, full of longing and despair.
Then it was time to put the darkness away. I painted angels that would keep watch over us. Now I believe in Happy. I think that if you believe, you can find it.
The Gladstone Hotel Exhibit, 2013
ABOUT THE PAINTINGS IN THE GLADSTONE HOTEL EXHIBIT, 2013
I wrote a poem, only feathers string me across the sky, one nudge or wrinkle and I fall, crash through violet dusk and skyscrapers, this wingless, landlocked, flattened creature of despair, which described the fragile threads/feathers that kept me alive, that kept me from falling through sky. When I started to paint, what appeared on my canvas was an angel that hovered above the city, pulled upward by her wings. People saw her as they needed to: as a guardian angel, an angel of hope, or an angel of sorrow. That painting was Angel Over the City.
At around the same time, I was driving home one evening with the radio on, when the host began talking about Demeter, the Greek goddess of the harvest who fell into a state of despair when her daughter, Persephone, was abducted by the king of the Underworld. It occurred to me that I was Demeter, longing for my daughter who had moved across the continent, and I was Persephone, mourning my mother who had just passed away. I wrote a poem, then began the series of drawings and paintings of Demeter and Persephone, which include Demeter, Persephone and Persephone and the King.
Painting My Mother
When my mother passed, I was lost. I did not know how to survive, but I started to paint, madly, and write, always. I pulled the despair out of me and onto paper.
I painted my pain, then angels, and then my mother began to nudge me, telling me it was time to paint her. I looked for her in the wedding photos that were taken when she was just nineteen. I found her in the hours, days and weeks that I spent looking into her face, her eyes.
She was, then, and is, now, my angel, constant in her watch over me.
Beloved mother, you never leave my side. Your beautiful, gnarled, arthritic feet rest in my lap, and I am home. You lie in the shadows of me, keeping me from harm.