Art has taught me so much. Looking back on my development, 2009 was the first time I created a number of paintings that became a poignant, personal body of work. Because art is not separate from life, the Imageries of the Wilderness series helped me listen to the dialogue of information that surrounded me that summer. My experiences, thoughts and feelings that come not from within, but from family, community and beyond were then translated to within. It was with these paintings that I fully saw the capability of my art as a process of learning, discovering and healing. I wrote. I composed. I painted. And I witnessed my worlds of art, music and words collide and evolve. It was with this body of work that I could find acceptance and feel healing occur. As I stared and studied my paintings, they became a mirror into my soul and gave me every piece of information I needed. They also seemed to hold powerful energy and emotions to many viewers, for images can be retained in memory as experience.
At the One of a Kind Show in the spring of 2011, I learnt this to be true. One afternoon, two women were walking casually down the aisle chatting to each other. They stopped at my booth as they noticed the 36” – 60” abstract, wilderness paintings I had on display. The older woman, maybe 75 years old, gazed and gathered an inquisitive look on her face. Her russian accent was clear as she began speaking with animation. “Ah. What is this painting? (pause) I know this place! This looks like the forest that I would walk through to go to school every day when I was 7 years old! It was scary, because I would have to watch for the soldiers. They could take you.” Her daughter (I learn) says loudly and not in a nice tone, “That’s awful mom. Let’s go!” and begins to walk out of the space. Her mother exclaims “No! This is beautiful. I want to stay. I cannot remember being 7 years old. I can see myself hiding behind that tree. (She points to one on the left side of the painting) I am in Russia again. I feel 7 again.” She was smiling and looked so enchanted standing there.
That was a beautiful moment for me. An image I painted became a vivid memory. The daughter left and her mother, who expressed openly of feeling small and scared, back in Russia, so joyful for the memory, stayed and stared for some time. She thanked me and as she walked away, she kept looking over her shoulder, as if looking one more time, to remember her childhood. Selling art is not always the point. Touching someone is. These are moments I will remember.