My Journey in the Visual Arts: Part 7 of 10

This is a series of short posts that will piece together how I ended up in the visual arts. I don’t recall an Ah-Ha situation where I knew from a particular moment that I wanted to be an artist. It just sort of crept up on me. It has now been over 35 years since I pursued art as, at first, a serious avocation then a profession. Along the way I have been very fortunate having experienced many facets of the visual art world. During that time I have also made attempts to leave that world only to be pulled back in somehow. You can read the first post in this series here.


Our daughter was born very early in 1986 and we had bought a home back in the city in the summer of 1985. Life for me was very quiet and lonely at this time. I drew when my daughter napped and since I was still more interested in realism at this time I stuck to very simple objects such as one piece of fruit. I was particularly found of apples and peaches and drew them using hard pastels or color pencil.

The one piece I remember very well actually was a non-representational collage and it completely absorbed me. I remember going to the art supply store and selecting very specific tempera paint colors. At night, I sat at our dining room table making this piece and my husband sat across from me painting miniature historic figurines. I painted several sheets small, fairly thick watercolor paper a variety of pastel colors: pink, blue, and yellow. After I painted the paper, I painstakingly tore them into long strips and then spent a great amount of time collaging them, looking carefully at the tear pattern of each strip of paper and deciding if it was the best choice to go with the previous strip’s tear pattern. It took me a long time to complete this piece and it was very small. After it was finished, I bought a precut blue mat (overall size 10″ x 8″) that had a white liner mat, which I signed. I called the piece Post Partum. Over the years I framed it different ways but I think my favorite presentation was the original one in the inexpensive humble precut mat and ready made silver chrome frame. I still have the piece (see below)


As our baby was getting to be closer to a year old, I felt I needed more outside stimulation. A group was forming through the Department of Recreation to attempt to bring more cultural programming to Northeast Philadelphia. Most events took place downtown. This group was heavily interested in the performing arts but there was room for all art related interests. My involvement was trying to book speakers on various topics at the local regional library branch as well as try to figure out a way to have small art exhibitions. It was a welcome activity for me and I enjoyed the people I met. There was a small outdoor art exhibition held in our part of the city that was somehow related to the Recreation Department that I participated in but it was not something directly related to this group. I was continuing to work with charcoal and hard pastel and that is probably what I exhibited.


The other big change I made was I went back to finish college. Finally my stars and the stars of the academic world aligned and I was able to major in Humanities at a small local college. The only requirement was that I had to decide a main area of focus but could take courses in many other subjects. My main focus was, of course, art. Below is a photo of my daughter and I that was published in the college’s newsletter. I remember what I was pointing at, it was a watercolor of a pile of sneakers made by one of the nuns who was a professor in the Humanities department.

Caption of photo reads: The continuing education program at Holy Family College is designed to meet the needs of non-traditional students, such as mothers of young children, whose primary responsibility is other than that of student.

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