Although I didn't know it at the beginning,, "Pieced Together" actually began piecing ITSELF together a long time ago. Here's my true and visual story.
As a multi-media artist who paints intuitively, I'd been led somehow to paint occasional shadowy figures in between my colorful plein aire landscapes and other subjects. I work in collage, oil, watercolor, and other media as the subject calls for it, but have especially enjoyed experimenting in collage for the last 45 years and so had actually been PIECING together with glue many of these figures for along time. A few years ago I discovered why I had allowed the figures to appear-as if by magic- on my canvas. I was trying to piece together my own family!
Several years ago while searching on Ancestors.com looking to see if the artist, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, was our relative, my brother discovered Isabela Kirchner, my mother's only sister. She was the aunt we'd never heard of and here's why –She'd been placed in the Oregon State Insane Asylum (then called) as a teenager and remained institutionalized until her death at the age of 97 in 2008. She had been kept a secret, never to be seen or discussed by our family again!
What a shock! When we discovered her by accident 4 years after her death in 2008, our mother, the last family member alive to have kept this secret, had recently died. Could Aunt Izzy, as we now call her, been trying to communicate with me through myArt? Through the mysterious and strange figures? I think think so!
So My husband and I made a pilgrimage to Oregon to visit where she'd lived her last 20 years. We found that she'd been loved and well cared for. There were photos of her that showed her living what appeared to be a reasonably happy life among friends and caregivers. When we returned home we had a small family ceremony at our mother's grave here in Cambria,California and placed a plaque for our dear Aunt "Izzy" on her sister's gravestone. It was then that we felt at peace and knew that the sisters were at peace also-they were "Pieced Together" at last!
I now realize that by not painting by rules and formulas and by trying to be honest and follow my heart, those shapes and figures had been able to come to the unconscious part of my mind which has possession of extraordinary knowledge. By facing myself as an artist and taking chances, I had been allowed to find a truth. I believe more than ever now that it is much more important to look for truth than try to imitate God and just paint a pretty picture. Just letting myself go and trying to face truth is why my work has more emotion than beauty, and I don't think I'll worry about that any more.
My project,"Pieced together," has helped me evolve as an artist and a human and also pieced together some of the truths of my family! I also see why my art has so much emotion, and I hope you can feel that too.