MY JOURNEY

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My life and my art are shaped by the desire to help others, to study and learn, to create and to experience beauty, and the longing to weave these passions together. Like all life journeys, mine has taken some unexpected twists and turns. Childhood dreams of being a fashion designer or architect met with the reality of the limited pursuits considered proper for women at the time. So, in spite of painting in pastels since age fourteen and getting commissions for my work by age 21, I went in another direction.

I became a clinical specialist in psychiatric-mental health nursing. I tried to approach each person not as the victim of a disorder, but as the courageous hero of a difficult life journey. I learned how to carefully observe the expressions of the face and body and the power of those expressions to convey hidden meanings. What I discovered about how the mind works and the observational skills I developed became essential to my artwork which is mostly psychological and figurative.

During these clinical years, I struggled to live an undivided life by finding a way to integrate my art work into my nursing work. Ultimately, I created a way to bear witness to the lives of others by painting what I called Life Journey Portraits using symbols and metaphors meaningful to the person. This process, involving multiple in-depth interviews, felt very sacred to me, so I studied iconography with a Master iconographer from the School of the Sacred Arts in New York. My paintings took on an iconographic quality with the use of gold leaf, egg tempera, and symbols. These paintings led me to a new turn in my journey and became the basis for a solo exhibition in 2003.

I completed a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies because no single field of study could answer my questions about what lies beneath the surface of things.  I also became a university professor and began to do art that translated ideas into images. This enabled me to understand ideas in a wholly different and more profound way. This also integrated my artwork more fully with nursing and teaching in the publication of 32 images in a psychiatric nursing textbook and its cover and a cover image for a textbook on transcultural nursing.

Now, I am painting to express what I have learned (and continue to learn) about the mysteries of the human psyche and fields as varied as science, history, religion, and language. Each painting explores an idea or experience to uncover ever-deeper meanings in the hope that those revelations will inform my life and the lives of others. I believe that how my paintings are experienced is based, not only on the formal elements of art such as composition or color, but also, and perhaps more importantly, on what viewers bring to my work from their own life journeys.