In My Youth
There are things about my childhood that I wish I could definitively wipe from my memory. There were some absolutely awful things… terrifying things… things that hurt me more than I thought I could live through. But, fact is, there were good things too. Seemingly, there were just enough to give me a taste of what hope might feel like… little glimmers of optimism…maybe even a bit of love. As bad as things ever felt for me (and indeed things were bad), I think it’s important to say that I am grateful for the little sparkles that illuminated my way to this life I have now.
One giant sparkle was walking. I walked a lot when I was young, mostly because I had nowhere to go (if that makes any sense). I did not want to be home, nor was I particularly welcome there… so I walked. I would read the street signs and memorize them. I would observe the address numbers and learn the city’s grid system. I dreamed of the lives in the homes I walked past. I dreamed of a better life for myself. As lonely as it may have been, it was also liberating, powerful, and free. Dreaming was absolute liberty, and I embraced it fully: bad and good… yin and yang. Life is nothing if not balanced!
Things got far worse before they got better. My eyes left the prize several times in the course of my tumultuous life, and it’s no small miracle I am still here. But this – THIS – is why I know so well how to embrace every wondrous second of my life. I take not one thing for granted.
They say, “Youth is wasted on the young”. For me, there was no youth to be had. It left only scars. I skipped right to the hard stuff and etched in some really unfortunate patterns. I continued perpetuating that damage well into adulthood. Luckily, (and I never once considered myself lucky!) I found some strong and loving blessings along the way… glimmers and sparkles… and they teach me how to be healthy.
I still walk a lot – everyday, in fact – usually with friends, my husband, my sons, or sometimes alone, but I love walking. And still, it feeds my soul. I walk to the beach every morning. I meditate. I hug trees. I study the waves… the clouds… the sounds. And then I go to my studio and paint. I paint my memories, my dreams, my realities… all of them. All of the things that have been parts of my life are the things that provide the foundation for all of my work. The energies of all that is new and present is what helps build the surface. The substance of all of our collective being is what makes it have meaning and depth.
Dianita is named after my beautiful cousin, who I spent time with during my childhood in Ecuador.
In painting Alden, I mentally and emotionally traveled back to a time I spent walking. I was very young. I don’t remember my exact age, but I had been walking for several hours alone; I didn’t know where to go. I had no home. I used to just walk a lot in those days. The weather didn’t always cooperate, and it was really quite lonely. But walking always helped to (literally) give me a sense of direction and hope. Mostly, I just wished and hoped somebody would find me and save me, which put me in a lot of dangerous situations, unfortunately. But hope was always there in my heart. Hope has sprung eternal in my life, and at this stage of things, I just find myself feeling truly grateful. I’m glad I’ve survived. And ultimately, my work is all about that survival and strength and hope.
An unusual title for a painting, I know, but this piece is about a time in my life: 1977, a particular day, actually. I was wearing a horrible chevron-patterned dress that was handed down a couple of times before it had gotten to me. It was too big, and I felt, as I often did, like a hopeless, twiggy ragamuffin. It’s funny, the things that etch themselves into our memories. That day in 1977 did just that, and I unraveled my feelings through this painting. I felt it important to depict this figure in colors reminiscent of that outfit, but with the beauty that I so terribly longed for back then.
In my late teens, I spent a lot of time walking the streets of Chicago and Evanston. I didn’t have a home that felt like home. I was lonely, but the perpetual motion of walking was good. I would memorize street name, I would imagine the lives within the homes I passed, and I would dream. This is such a big part of me and so much of why I am where I am today. I have always had big dreams for myself. I always saw myself with the life I wanted: this life. That walking was freedom… to dream… to rise… to be. Beatrix reminds me of those walks.
Luna is a painting of a young girl illuminated by moonlight. It depicts a clear and beautiful summer night, and this girl is out enjoying the serenity and joy of aimless wandering, breathing in the warm night air. This is a painting of boundless freedom and pure joy.