I have spent most of my time in this physical body contemplating existence. As a child, I would travel out into the night sky to see just how far I could go. Spoiler…I have yet to find an end point.
As a young adult, I spent many years living in a quiet cabin. The land and streams provided a good portion of my food. Trees that were thinned from the surrounding woods gave me warmth and cooking fuel. Water was gravity-fed into my home from an ever-flowing spring. Most of my contemplations during this time were about living in harmony with the ever-changing seasons. I understood my connection and the presence of oneness.
In my middle years, I moved to the dry bones of the American Southwest. The landscape opened my Soul to a deeper night sky. Ancestors roamed the canyons and mesas. Time was arranged in layers and spirals rather than linear.
Once, on a peyote journey, I saw my physical beginnings. Egg and sperm, dividing and multiplying, molecules forming…all of the complexities of my human self…an ultimate creative act.
My father lived to be ninety years old. His mind and hearing had pretty much left him. When I received the call that he was nearing his passing, I drove the 12 hours from my home to his. Arriving at 7:30 pm to the hospital, he was in bed and mumbling in an incoherent manner. I stood quietly watching him. At one moment he opened his eyes and clearly said, “Oh, you are here!” We proceeded to have an unusual lucid conversation which was sustained for 45 minutes. He then fell into a deep sleep. The next day, as I was looking into his eyes and he was looking into mine, he took his last breath. In that moment I saw the entire Universe open.
When my mother died, I sat with her body for a lifetime. She was truly done with her physical body after ninety three and a half years. We buried her the next day. Later in the day, in a sacred grove, I meditated. It was there that I clearly felt my mother’s presence. She gestured with her hand in a high arc from left to right, and I heard her, in a voiceless way, say, “It’s so much more”.
My DNA results confirm both my paternal and maternal lineage, Eastern European Jew and Italian, respectively.
It is all of the above that defines my Origins, from physical to infinite. This is what is expressed in all my creations.
Some would say my origin is that of a female middle child born into a traditional large Irish-Catholic family. Like all of us however, I am many things, but I continue to have fun mining the deep chaotic well of my childhood. My work speaks of traditional female domestic work, large family dinner table banter, growing up in the 60’s. I embroider because, although I wanted to paint, painting was taboo in my family. It was the age of Picasso. We were not going to be encouraged to emulate a philandering foreigner who painted disjointed nudes. Although I paint now, embroidery was my first love and my entry into the world of art. It is still a favorite of mine. I like to embroider anecdotes and funny thoughts I experienced growing up. My original intention was to pass on to my children what I was like as a kid. It only became artwork as the project grew. In hindsight, it reflects how different life was in urban white America fifty years ago, than it is now. I like the contrast.
For me, the annual spring ritual of making ‘Pysanky’, the ancient art form of Ukrainian decorated eggs, is an acknowledgment and celebration of my cultural heritage. The tradition I grew up with, passed down to me by my mother, I now carry on with my family.
It was a natural evolution to depict this iconic symbol in my paintings. So full of meaning and lore, I found endless inspiration in its rich narrative and 5,000 year old history. It was a way of honoring and connecting me to my roots.