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Hope Amidst the Ruins: A Retrospective Journey

On June 17, 2021 I opened my latest art show, a retrospective of 20 years, at the Stanley Arts Center in Hampton, SC. It was sweetly attended by my close friends and family, I always feel honored that they come out continuously to support my artistic efforts, however humble. And this night was no different.

I have been humbled that my art has "gone out into the world" to places I may never see, or visit. I am always delighted when my art connects with someone and the choice is made to take it home. That a small part of my soul has been allowed to make it's way to take up space in your life - well, it is both humbling and rewarding.

As with most artists, there is a story of how we got to where we are - everyone has a story. There is no straight line to how we arrived where we are - and there are many twists, turns, detours and dead ends. My story is long and detailed and some parts are certainly not worth repeating. But I thought I would share with you what I shared with my sweet audience on the night of June 17. I am not sure if my words can convey the deep emotion I felt in sharing this journey aloud with twenty years of my work surrounding me on the gallery walls. My friends and family gathered to cheer me onward, but these are the words. This is a small window into my journey.

(The paintings behind me were unveiled one at a time as I spoke about each of these inspirations - they were painted in 2002 with 2 colors of regular house paint and painted mostly with my fingers, on particle board.)

Stanley Arts Center, Hampton, South Carolina, Thursday, June 17, 2021

We have all had one of those days. The world has turned upside down. Things are not what they seem. Even that person in the mirror is not who you thought she was. There is no do-over, there is no one to turn to, there is no one to talk to. Prayers seem to hit the ceiling. So what do you do?

On this one day when my world had caved in on itself and dreams seemed shattered – I did something I had never done before: I turned to a canvas. I had an old box of paints from my grandmother and a canvas that had been a start of a painting from years before. I did not know the difference between oil and acrylic. I am not sure I had a decent brush. The lids were stuck on the tubes and they had to be stabbed to release the paint. I wept, I painted, I wept some more. And I probably didn’t paint again for a year after that.

The Missionary to China and Olympic runner, Eric Liddell, whose life is portrayed in the 1981 film Chariots of Fire, remarked “Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins – Our broken lives are not lost or useless. God’s love is still working. He comes in and takes the calamity and uses it victoriously working out His wonderful plan of love.”

So, at my lowest points I looked at King David. He was a liar, an adulterer, a murderer and yet, God called him “A man after my own heart.” His life gives me hope that as God said when Samuel was sent to anoint him “the Lord sees not as man sees, for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” I looked at David and I prayed that my outward appearance would diminish and the Lord will look upon my heart – as deceitful as it is, and that he would have mercy and He has.

My favorite historian, Paul Johnson, across the pond in England has written many, many books, articles and reviews. During college several of his books were required reading. Among them Modern Times: The World from the twenties to the nineties. Paul is a wonderful read, albeit if you read with your dictionary as a companion, and in Modern Times is shared this: “The modern world began on May 29, 1919. I will leave you to read the book and discover why – but I will give you this much. It is based around Albert Einstein and his special theory of relativity which falsely began to be viewed as relativism. Meaning – that there are no absolutes: Johnson writes: No one was more distressed than Einstein by this public misapprehension. He was bewildered….he wrote to his colleague Max Born on 9 September 1920 “Like the man in the fairy tale who turned everything he touched into gold, so with me everything turns into a fuss in the newspapers.’ Einstein was not a practicing Jew but he acknowledged a God. He believed passionately in absolute standards of right and wrong…. There were times, he said at the end of his life, when he wished he had been a simple watchmaker.

Einstein. Had. Doubts. He make the most famous discovery in history and it becomes misapplied and he despairs of his place in history. His face gives me hope. I am no Einstein, but I have despaired of my place in history. I have doubted. His humble beginnings in his childhood make for great reading also. But what I love the most was his humility and his humanness – and those are things I can aspire to.

As I have heard it said – “Women should learn history, and they should make it.”

She was controversial during her lifetime and after her lifetime, but Mother Teresa is admired around the world. Her simple rules of doing small things with great love can be an example to all of us. Especially when we see ourselves as only capable of small things.

At this point in 2002 I was close to losing my marriage and my family. I had made grievous decisions that would haunt me for my whole life. My journaling and praying and much counseling had led me to a place of soul-searching for how things could change. How I could rectify and undo the damage that had been done.

At one point Mother Teresa was asked how can we achieve world Peace? She replied: "Go home and love your family."

And so I did.

Although in the process of art you are often alone – I have not been alone on the journey. Many people have accompanied me through their encouragement, their patronage, their galleries for showing and their sweet words of advice, education, and admonition. I have had art rescued from trash piles, found in landfills and at thrift stores – so the Lord has known how to keep me humble. But I have only made it this far by His love and kindness and by the friends and family that have been here by my side.

To all of you – and you know who you are – I thank you.

To my Mom and Dad – You are everything. I love you and hope you know how important you are to me.

To Dylan and Elizabeth – You have colored my world in a way I never hoped for – Thank you.

To my son, David Paul – you have remained my biggest fan – I pray I have returned the favor.

And to Dave – my husband. Thank you for being there when I got home. You are our rock. I will never forget that.

Thank you all for coming and I hope that you will find some little something today that will remind you that when everything seems to be falling apart God is not helpless among the


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