Working together for inspiration in this artistic collaboration, poet Kate Lutzner and I ended up with a moving collection of work that not only speaks to motherhood and the complex emotions involved, but also romantic relationships combined with traumatic experiences and the pain and heartbreak that women all too often endure.
I had 24 hours to create the first painting, then I sent the image of the painting to Kate and she had 24 hours to write a poem as a response to what I painted. The collaboration went back and forth like that for two weeks.
We never discussed a direction or a plan for these pieces,
I painted this in response to Kate’s first poem. For me her words called to mind a woman filled with regret and frustration, overwhelmed by the weight of the world and unsure of which direction to turn.
Something about Kate’s poem “Victories” reminded me of a self absorbed mother, oblivious to the needs of her child she is only concerned about what is going on outside.
Certain phrases in Kate’s poem reminded me of my friend Rhys from university and the tragic love story he shared about himself and the girl that took this photo of him. “I miss the way you looked at me.” I had kept the photo all these years in hopes to one day paint it. Kate’s poem was the final bit of the puzzle.
I found it interesting that Kate didn’t have a problem with an artist painting her but was unwilling to paint herself. There is also illusions in her poem to wanting desperately to be loved by someone. I couldn’t help but wonder what where her own personal feelings about herself. So I painted her in a painting of a painting of her. In the gallery she stands naked attempting to cover herself as she looks at an artist’s representation of her image.
Kate’s poem “Self Portrait 2” for me really spoke to a woman who is feeling intensely dissatisfied with her relationships and with herself. It brought to mind for me how women too often give up too much of themselves for the sake of other’s wants and needs.
I really loved the line in Kate’s poem “Turned over our grief like water in a bucket”. The feeling in that phrase was very descriptive and intense. I wanted to paint a woman in the throws of grief who’s face was like that water, just pouring out of her like the tears, like she was made of a tidal wave of tears.
For me, going off experiences in my own life, Kate’s poem “Mirror” called to mine the thoughts of a narcissistic woman who is dissatisfied with her lot in life, although she is likely the reason she’s at where she is. She is filled with bitter regret, and even though she faces herself in the mirror she is blind to who the real culprit is.
This artistic collaboration journey with Kate had gone down so many difficult paths, I wanted my last work to be something that gave a little glimmer of hope. In her poem she speaks of death and bodies on the floor. It brought to mind for me the Edith Eger book “The Choice” which is the story of her life before, during and after surviving a Nazi concentration camp. There is a moment where she is nearly dead lying naked atop a pile of other dead naked bodies, but she hears a voice of an American solider nearby and uses the last bit of strength she has to signal to him that she is still alive. In the darkest place that anyone can ever imagine she chose to live.