There Will Come a Time
“There Will Come a Time” is a collection of portrait drawings depicting the challenges of the aging process. These drawings capture both the outward appearance as well as the inner state of mind of my most precious subjects, my parents. My drawings tell stories of a mother with Parkinson’s Disease and cancer, and a quadriplegic father with dementia, enduring the winter of their lives. Although my stories are personal in nature, they speak to a wide audience. Anyone who has watched family members grow old, and become imprisoned within their withering bodies, will have an understanding of and connection to my work.
As I watched my parent’s health and happiness decline, I longed to help them. I wanted to make them happy again. I was unable to change the reality that each would have to reckon with; however, I was able to create a different reality for them within my artwork. A frail, slender figure smiles and dances. An immobile frozen body is presented in motion. I was able to depict my parents in a way where they seem to be at peace or joyful, yet upon closer inspection, the viewer is able to see a visual hint to the truth of the situation. Transparent, fading figures emerge. Wheelchairs are present. A body that appears to be dancing is actually jerking with tremors. There were days that were filled with anxiety, sorrow, or pain for both my parents and myself as a caregiver. My drawings became a way of cataloguing good memories and a way of working through some of the more difficult times. Not all images will elicit a positive emotion from the viewer. Not all drawings felt good to create, yet it is art worth making. It has been a grieving process for me, a way of dealing with what is already lost and a way of hanging onto what will inevitably disappear.
My body of work is comprised of mixed media drawings. I start out each drawing by painting with different strengths of coffee to create different values. I block in large shadow areas of the picture first and then draw on top of them with sepia toned pencils, pastels, and graphite. Some images contain transfers of drawings that my father did while he was a builder.
My quilted pieces act as “thought bubbles.” They tell the stories that were the inspiration for different drawings. Comprised of old clothing, dyed and rusted cloth, bed pads, oxygen machine tubing, etc… these pieces incorporate medical supplies, and other supplies used on a daily basis, and present them in a way that makes them beautiful. Just as with my drawings, the quilted images contain visual hints to the reality of different situations.