Thursday, January 13, 2011

Gift from a Friend

September 2001
While we were waiting to fly back to the States after September 11 Jim and I traveled around Provence.
Although it was a nervous and uncertain time we found moments of quiet certainty.

Like the afternoon we visited Paul Cezanne's studio outside Arles. They have preserved it so that you  feel his presence in this charming place. 
 The shelves in his studio are crowded with the familiar objects he arranged and rearranged in his paintings over the years. I recognized objects from paintings I had studied in textbooks and seen in countless museums since my first art history class in the 1970s at Dunbarton College of the Holy Cross in Washington, DC. At a time when I felt disconnected from home - I felt welcomed by the comforting familiarity of Cezanne's old furniture and odd vases and clocks.

Sitting in his garden on a warm afternoon was a sweet time.

These settling connections in strange places are what I love about art.

Near-by was Mt. St. Victoire - the large rock face mountain Cezanne painted over and over.
Steady as a rock.
All is well.

Art is often such a rock-certain center for me.

The blessings of Art in my life came when a neighbor in Oxon Hill, MD handed me charcoal and paper and took me to an art class in artist, Jessalee Sickman's old style studio on Eye Streen in Downtown Washington.

In 1965 this friend opened a wonderful new world for me.  

Thank you, Pat Morgan. Where ever you are, thank you.

In 1968, I enrolled at Dunbarton College as an art major.

Monday, January 10, 2011

At the Center

Makes sense to start in the middle doesn’t it? From this point in 1972  I can weave back and forth across the memories.
Graduation Day, June 1972 – that pivotal event is a good starting place.
How did a 36 year old mother of three end up on this stage? I tell a detailed version of the story in Pushing Boundaries .
Influenced by Betty Fridan’s new book, The Feminine Mystique, and a need to find myself, I decided to go back to college. Dunbarton College of the Holy Cross was a small Catholic girls college that reminded me of my elementary school days when I boarded at Sacred Heart Academy in Belmont, NC. It seemed like a safe haven - a quiet place for prayer.
I called that wrong. It was safe – but it was not isolated from the social and political turmoil of the late 1960s and early 1970s – when women were finding their voice and students were active in political protests against the Vietnam War. There was not a quiet college campus in the United States as students nationwide joined in.
As I emerged from my kitchen into the world I first became involved in the anti-war movement. Then a  new Women’s Studies class at Dunbarton opened my eyes to women's issues. Soon  I was attending NOW gatherings and meeting weekly with a women's Conscious Raising Group. 
I found my real niche as an activist in the women artists movement.
Karen, Robin, Mom, the graduate, and Jimmy
My children stood by as “mom” received her  diploma – as I would later watch as they each graduated from college. We laughed that day about  the novelty of "mom, the graduate and her kids."
If you are thinking there was a cadre of other mothers in my class – or at the college – as there are today – think again. There were two of us in my class - - and only three in the college. 1968 – 1972 was a little before the onslaught of women returning to college.
My husband Jim also stood by as I received my degree that day – just as he stands by me today.