Friday, December 22, 2006

I miss them, and I never knew them.

I don’t think I would call it melancholy, it is definitely reflective. I have spent a year of my life with Lucas and Jeanine. I have swum in my thoughts and feelings about them and searched desperately for them. Together we developed a relationship and they brought me to some really surprising discoveries about my process and myself.

I commented on my other blog that a parent who had lost a child looked at the Jeanine sculpture at the christmas party and said I have sculpted so much peace in her. His comment meant a great deal to me, because he too has suffered this loss. I documented the entire process of sculpting Jeanine for the book that I am writing, and shared it with the readers but in the end I step back and look at the piece and still wonder, how did we do this? I rejoice in thinking that the sculpture emits peace. Considering the pain in her life and the way that she died, finding this peace and capturing it has been very important to me. I know the parents will then see the peace in the sculpture and that will somehow help them.

But again, Lucas and Jeanine will soon be gone. They will be with their parents and for that I am happy. I will have the memories of creating and loving them.

A desire to sit and chat?

A friend of mine that was at the party said that she so wanted to sit down with Dick and chat. Her comment made me smile. She said she would catch a glimpse of him and think he was alive. That his mannerism made her feel comfortable and like having a conversation. The comment made me feel wonderful. I wondered what others would do when he is placed on the campus at Vermont College. I can only imagine.

I can't wait to get back to sculpting Dick after the holidays.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Dick and the Christmas party

This past weekend we had a Christmas party at my art studio. It is called the upside down Christmas party because we hang the tree upside down from the ceiling. The guests that come can decorate our tree from a found object, or anything that is on their person or in their car. It is fun to see what others come up with. I have posted some of the party pictures at my other blog. . It is a creative event. Everyone enjoyed the tree and the sculptures.

It was fun to see people interact with Dick.

The Jeanine and Lucas sculptures came home from the foundry for the show. Soon they will be with their parents. The holidays are always difficult for those who have lost a loved one. It is a time of continuous prayer for me. I feel compelled to lift up each one. Jeanine and Lucas will soon be home with their families.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Books for Dick

Last week I went to the thrift store and looked for some books to set at Dick's feet. The title of these books will change as they will be covered with clay and the form of the books actually become an armature. I'll carve the titles in the book so they will be seen in the cover and spine. I may utilize the book bag as well, covering it with wax to stiffen it up.

I am still searching for the title of the books that would be at Dick's feet. You may notice there are a few other elements that are spilling out of the bag. To be specific they will be an elephant carving, a feather and their will be a piece of paper a letter on top of the bag.
Here is the significance of these items.

The first is an elephant. I received this elephant from my professor Charlotte Hastings. It was in regard to something I mentioned while I was writing the book "Bringing to Life the Spirit of the Deceased—A Sculptor's Journey"

I commented in my writing of the book the book
"I have always been intrigued with the story that I heard of elephants, marveling at the bones of their ancestors that they never knew. I remember seeing an elephant documentary that said that elephants that came across bones of their ancestors would pick them up and caress them, passing them from one to another in a respectful but mourning ritual. By doing so, it helped them come to terms with death. I feel that this action, this simple action by a wonderful and majestic creature is what I feel when I create posthumous portraiture. When the box of personal affects comes to my studio and I examine it, from that day forward until the day that the sculpture is complete I have spent time lovingly caressing the life that I have had a pleasure to be introduced to. I turn that life over and over in my hands and heart as lovingly as those majestic elephants did with the bones of their ancestors. It is through my ritual and my art that my experience is enhanced and the healing process and letting go occur for my client. "

There will also be a feather pouring out of the book bag, another symbol that is mentioned in my book -

" While sitting at dinner with several classmates on the Vermont College Campus, we were discussing posthumous portraiture and my journey. They were all interested in my topic. Again I state, "How do I do this? It is a difficult thing for me to look at, do you think that somehow I communicate with my subject"” Communicating with those who are dead is not an easy thing for me to comprehend. I have a strong Christian background and communication with the deceased would be frowned on by some people. "“Besides"”, I tell myself, "“this is just art."” As we talk the eyes of one of my classmates tears up. I have just met all of these people within the last day, and these women at this very dinner. I discover that Helen has just lost her mother seven days earlier. "“ Great." I think to myself, "“You have done it again talking about death like it is an everyday thing."”
I apologize to Helen, "“I am sorry if I am being insensitive." It would not be the first time that I have had to do this"— apologize. Just last year I was visiting a friend who lost her son. She and I had had our children months apart, and I could not begin to comprehend the incredible pain of losing a child who is only 19. She inquired about my work, artist that she is, and I told her about my most recent commissions, all which surrounded death. I truly was not trying to be insensitive to the pain of others, this work is my job, my life. I work with death almost every day.
Helen tells me that it is all right and proceeds to tell me a story about her mother. "I did a study on the Native American Indians,"” she begins. "“Within this study I discovered the strong symbolism that a feather has to the Native American Indian culture and while my mom was in the hospital, I gave her a feather."” We all listened intently to the story. She told us how unsure she was about coming to residency, but she knew that her mother would want her to come. So she packed her bags. She left the room where her bags were sitting and upon returning she looked and on top of the bags was a feather. She quickly stated that she collects feathers and has cats and maybe one of the cats could have gotten into her feathers and brought one to the suitcase. All three of her classmates concurred: it did not matter how the feather got there, it meant something to her, and so we believed it was from her mom.
After our conversation that evening, I was overwhelmed with the amount of interaction with people in the last few days. It was so unlike me, but I decided to skip the next lecture and take a long walk up the mountain. Just before dark I returned to the campus. As I turned to enter the dorm building, there on the ground was a feather. I stepped over the feather at first saying, "“Hmm here is a feather". Then I realized the significance and backed up and said, "“HERE IS A FEATHER!"” I picked up the feather and then searched for Helen. When I found her I handed her the feather and said, "“Maybe they do communicate; if so, I think your mom says hi."
It was not the only feather Helen received throughout the six-day residency. In total she received five feathers."

There were many more strange things invloved in these two symbols, but I suppose you will have to read the book to find out.

The letter will be a statement about Dick, a letter to him from those who loved him, all of us. I'll carve this into the wax or clay.

Sending the money to the TW Woods

As reported before the TW Woods gallery is now taking the donations toward the Dick Hathaway memorial project. That means that the donations are tax deductible. Today I closed out the Houston account and sent them a check for what was in this account. It was a whopping 60.70!

I am glad that we have a total of 20,060. toward the proejct with just a balance of 4,940 needed.