Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Knowing Who Shares the Path

Mamma said family had just gathered for two other occasions and would be together again for the cousins' graduations and that we didn't need a big Mother's Day dinner this year. So she came to our house where, although there were just five of us, there were four generations around our table for Sunday dinner.

In our family, we are aware of generations. And even when we don't see them often, we care about the cousins who fill the countryside. Occasionally, we gather on hot porches in summer and warm rooms in winter to welcome newlyweds and new babies who have the family nose or hair color or long legs. We visit cemeteries and pause to read headstones from the past and to remember the long deceased and their influences on the family. We return to church "homecomings" for dinner on the grounds and catch up on latest family news. We have no doubt that those who share this path are both who we are and who we will become.

As artists, we forget to look at our own "history." We don't understand how we got where we are or even how each piece connects to create a " body of work." In answering questions about influences, we blithely name one or two well-known names, but we don't really know what the influence is. In thinking about experiences, we realize that we have not let them into our work. In wondering about other artists, we forget about bits of their techniques which creep into our own. In searching for our own identities, we need to be reminded of the generations around us.

Finding a personal path as an artist is sometimes as simple and as obscure as this -- knowing who shares the path -- the influences, the experiences and the shared bits of artistic DNA. Then we will have no doubt about both who we are and who we can become.

A note about today's photos: (LaLa top left; Lucy, lower right) In April at "Homecoming," my grandchild explored the small country church which my mother joined more than 80 years ago. She touched the windows, the altar and the organ very carefully as if marking her place in history.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful post Annette----------and the pic of Lucy would make a wonderful painting--
Linda S.

Martha Marshall said...

That's beautiful, Annette! I so miss those homecomings, which happen on Mother's Day in the little community where my mother grew up. It's been years since I attended one.

I'll never forget, years ago, bumping into a distant cousin, whom I had never met before, and seeing my mirror image in her face. She and I both just burst out laughing.

Annette said...

Linda, Glad you enjoyed the post. The last years have made me understand the need for dining my 'place' as an artist. I'm thrilled with some of the photos of Lucy and with some of the others, I'm glad of a digital camera's delete feature. I'm not sure when I'll do a painting of her though.

Annette said...

Oh, I know about seeing yourself -- except for me it was seeing my HAIR! Seems the white runs in my maternal grandfather's family. I'm still looking for my place at the painting table!