Life can be summed up in the seasonal world of nature. Sadness to joy, death to rebirth, destruction to renewal is the experience of living, in nature and in humans. The dark cold of winter gives way to the sunrise of spring, to a new day, new life and the healing power of art. Nature is our reminder that spring always comes. Nature is the focus of my art.
Reelfoot Lake was born of the violence and destruction of the New Madrid Earthquake of 1811-12. The land shook and split, the river ran backwards, black smoke eviscerated all light and when morning came again, a lake was formed. After a time, peace returned to the water dotted throughout with cypress trees providing shelter to bald eagles and other birds in the branches, and to fish among the roots and knees. Light bounces off the dark opaque water lapping at the trees, reflecting a myriad of colors. As a child growing up at Reelfoot, I was mesmerized by the colors on the suface of the lake and the mysterious trees growing up through the water. My lake paintings are about the beauty and mystery of Reelfoot as remembered through a child’s eyes. From the destruction of the earthquake to the birth of a sanctuary, the Reelfoot story is about rebirth and the hope for a new day. My paintings express through color and drama, the magical beauty that belies the violent birth and seeks to capture the enchantment of childhood memories.
The secret of magic is kept within nature. I learned this very early in life as I tottered along behind my grandmother in her seemly endless garden of flowers, or when holding the hand of my great aunt as we went for bird watching walks. My grandmother’s garden was my secret childhood healing place. Each flower painting is a remembrance of the healing that can be found in a garden, the hope of renewal, the joy of simple beauty. The bird paintings are the expression of a child’s wonder at these fascinating little creatures that know the secret of flying. My grandmother taught me a love of growing things. My great aunt shared her fascination with the world of birds. In my remembered child’s dream world, I live in the trees with the birds above my grandmother’s garden of colorful flowers. Each painting transports me to that happy place. Each painting shares that happy place with others.
Art has the power to heal. Art can inspire peace, restore hope, deflect fear. Art can turn sadness into joy. Inspired by the research of others, I sought to also show through my own research, that art is a tool for healing. It was encouraging to see the beauty of the effects art had on patients, nurses, doctors and other staff of a cardiac care unit in the Art to Heart Project at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Art can positively impact the healthcare environment. Artists can see their work make a difference in the lives of people who are hurting. As more visual art becomes a part of healthcare, more lives will be touched by the healing power of art.
My desire, as an artist, is to see my art make a difference in a positive way, by sharing the memories of a child when life was new and fascinating. Nature through the magical eyes of a child’s remembrance is a reminder that spring will come again with hope for a new day.