Paradise Found

When my beloved friend moved from her house to a high rise apartment, I believe that she grieved for her garden. So I created this piece for her, and framed it as a window for the wall in her new home.

The birds are all prevalent, if not native to Florida: kingfisher, crane and egret. But it is the jacaranda tree that always enthralled me every spring in St. Petersburg. I was privileged to examine jacaranda blossoms up close, when I traveled to L. A. for my husband’s reunion at Cal Tech. The blossoms are so delicate, but imagine an effusion of them floating among stately trees, framed by sun-kissed sky!


I’ve been compelled to work on this piece for some time, since beginning to write about my volunteer work with Occupy Medical Eugene, a free mobile health care clinic that emphasizes the right for everyone to have access to respectful, compassionate and competent health care. 

I wrote a poem first, in a poetry workshop conducted by my friend and mentor, Kelly Eastlund. This art piece evolved out of that writing experience.

Here is the poem that is inspiring my visual piece:

Weeping, Swept by Fury

It is a cry, welling up from my heart, bubbling up, unbidden.

My heart is just so full that my ribs are cracking open, breaking through my chest. I can hear the snap. 

I’m bleeding out, a fierce tidal wave of indignation, as I walk the city streets.

I am so distraught, bearing witness to these fellow beings on the street, houseless, starving for acknowledgement as well as nutrition, rejected and displaced.

My cry has wording now. “Injustice. Suffering. Assault in all its forms.”

I am weeping, and I cannot stem the tide. Any one of us could have been born to this set of circumstances. 

This cry gives rise to a question. “Why do so few see their plight?” Most choose to see through them, around them, beyond them. 

We were born with the tools to create a solution: head, heart, hands.

This is my vow, to never cease the cry, and to use my head, my heart, my hands, to build and plant, so as to ease the suffering.

Art Instruction 

I’m a middle school art instructor who emphasizes art history as a launching point for learning to give cultural context to one’s art expression. This concept of art confronting its viewer is not new.

I think honest observation of the truths that are depicted in an artistic piece can likewise comfort the disturbed: witnessing this truth can be quite validating.

From the first day of my instruction, I have stressed that there will only be one rule: students may not be self critical or criticize other students in the class. I’ve been teaching my students the difference between critique and criticism. Denegration is harmful.

An emerging artist can instead do some self-inquiry and assessment in order to further explore an approach or to amend it: this process can be constructive and informative. A student might address questions such as “What appeals to me about this piece?” “Can I further explore this approach in an evolving series of pieces?” “What changes does this work lead me to make as I work on my next piece?”

I like to encourage developmental awareness and an illumination of one’s inner world as part of artistic expression. This likely comes from my background as an occupational therapist; likewise, it has its roots in art history. It certainly adds depth and an evocative sensibility to the work of my students.