Until November 2007 my husband Billy had lived a very healthy life. Then, out of the blue, early on a Saturday morning, he became ill and within hours underwent emergency surgery to remove a malignant brain tumor. Then, a week later my father passed away in Brazil.
Throughout the subsequent period of grieving, radiation treatments, chemo sessions, bouts of despair, and moments of pure joy I created the works for this exhibition. I call the series Absence - Presence.
The mask displayed here is the one Billy used during his six weeks of radiation therapy. Its expressive power inspired me on so many levels, that I decided to show it along with the works it helped to provoke.
The idea for this body of work came to me as a way of dealing with the enormity of emotions - the loss, sorrow, fear, pain, and despair - flowing over and in me. By drawing my heartbreak, I could slowly accept what was happening. Through acceptance, I have been able to be at peace in the present moment and begin to find happiness once again.
I have learned that feeling good is my choice. I can't depend on life's circumstances to make me happy or be at peace. Change is its own master. I have no control over how, when, or why things change. But, I can reach within myself and find peace and happiness no matter what is going on, good or bad, to me and the people I most love.
This work started as charcoal drawings on paper, representing my emotional states. Next I made a series of assemblages. For these three-dimensional compositions, in addition to the drawings, I used plexiglas boxes, resin, and different found objects such as rubber flies, thread, red balls, hair, pills, staples, cotton balls, and gauze.
Once the assemblages were complete, I photographed them. As a way to make what I saw to be ugly, beautiful, I combined the photographs with abstract paintings, and had them printed on canvas. Finally, I mounted the canvases on wood panels and poured resin over them.
I call these pieces Void, Whisper, Flow, Ebb, Solace, Essence, Wonder and Embrace.