THIS I BELIEVE
I believe I have been formed by the visual world. I believe our visual world, built and unbuilt shapes us all. It shapes and mirrors us at the same time. The spaces we live and study and work in lift or depress, make us secure enough to be bold, or nurture thoughtfulness, or create anxiety.
When I started school, in Dallas, in a temporary building, I got the message that school wasn’t very important. When fine linens and silver came out, I knew it was a ceremonial occasion. When I sit in a well designed chair, or cross under a well designed bridge, there is a satisfying balance.
As a young girl, about 12, I asked my parents for a “room of my own” to quote Virginia Woolf. I was fortunate to have my own bedroom, but I meant a place to be messy, to read, to paint, to be solitary, on my own, away from the family. My parents didn’t need to say yes…..this was their house, but they made room for me in a tool room in the garage that became mine. The time I spent in that room, a refuge, yes, but a jumping off place to flights of imagination, absolutely shaped my life. There was a pink chest of drawers where I kept my art materials, a shelf for books, a work table, and a cot for dreaming. I felt like a million bucks in there.
As an adult, and many studios later, I’ve dedicated my life to work as a visual artist. I am currently serving on the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, a review panel that meets monthly in Washington DC. We advise on all the art and architecture built in the capital.
Our group looked many times at the World War II Memorial, with suggestions and concerns along the way to approval and final construction. As I brought my parents (the greatest generation) to visit the finished Memorial, I remember their sacrifices. Dad ( 86 at the time) served at D-Day on Omaha Beach, and also at Battle of the Bulge. Mother (84 at the time and would die within the year) served at home as a teacher, apart from her new husband for 3 and a half years. I thought of them, as parents, sacrificing a small room, a request a child made, that could have been dismissed, as something I’d get over.
We all see something different when we look at a monument or memorial. I see my parents’ lives of generosity. I believe that art is long and life is short. I also believe that the spirit of love is even longer.
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