I made one more piece for the show. The brightness portrays who Kit is.
Playfulness, creativity, and empathy are powerful tools that make communication without a common language possible. Using these tools, we can connect with people even in an advanced stage of dementia.*
Let us laugh together. Kit has been teaching me its importance.
* TED Talk: Reconsider Dementia by Vibeke Drevsen Back
Many people helped me with this piece. Chuck and Marie posed beautifully for me. Paul and Gene assisted with the kiln loading and unloading. Darrel and Chris helped me transfer the figures from a temporary base to the one on the photo. Experts on the Ceramic Month Forum advised me how to add supports to the base. A few of my friends brainstormed titles for this sculpture. My reaction is a giant smile. A joint show with Kit Watson is coming up next week. Even for the installation, friends are indispensable. They truly make my world brighter. Thank you.
My show partner, who has been living with dementia, often watches the sunset from her dining room and recollects moments from her childhood - walking hand in hand with her father, helping mother sew her prom dress, visiting her elderly neighbors, and so on. Such simple interactions with adults long gone are continuing to blanket her lone evenings with warmth.
My friend, who helped me edit my proposal for the Archie Bray Residency Program, asked what was a success to me. Everything I needed for ceramic sculpting was in my home studio, but why did I desire to take the residency? I answered to her, "My utmost importance is to create artwork that will satisfy me. If my creations touch hearts, it's better. Still I have to make a living. Therefore the residency gives me exposure I seek." That answer made me reflect upon what I can do best with my life and with my art. I will probably continue to look for the answer for the rest of my life.
I hurriedly finished this sculpture in order to include the image in the proposal. It was submitted a week ago. I am now crossing my fingers and toes.
Sculpting interlocking figures is challenging. The joints can separate or crack as the clay dries. This piece may crack, but hopefully, under the blanket or the clothing. Here is the accompanying text:
In a nursing home where I worked, residents had half an hour to eat a meal. Walter was one of a few who needed to be syringe-fed. One day, his wife visited, and we set his tray in a corner away from the busy cafeteria. When she requested a spoon, I asked, “Does Walter open his mouth?” She answered, “Yes, you may have to wait a little, but he does.”
The lunch ended, and other residents were back in bed for a nap. Walter’s wife was still spoon-feeding him, restoring some dignity to the life of this old rancher.
I'm not happy with the title "Unfading Love," though what I want to express is that. Any suggestions?
I painted two different backgrounds for this sculpture, simply because I wanted to give a positive twist to this otherwise depressing image of an old woman. For now, I'm leaning toward not using the background at all. I'm still working on the accompanying text and title as well. I'll share what I have for now. Your feedback is much appreciated.
HOW CAN I LIGHT THE DARK CORNER OF YOUR WORLD?
We forget so much but can remain haunted by unresolved moments. The same is true for people with dementia. The pain continues to stub the heart, even though much has been wiped away from their memory.
I cannot forget the sorrowful expression Kit made when she told me about an irretrievable thing she had done. It was a matter that could be easily forgiven, but the person concerned had been long gone. The incident has been smoldering in a hidden corner of her heart. How long more will it continue, or how can we help her forgive herself?
I re-finished the reflective base for this piece. When I decided to get rid of the frame, I asked around for ideas. Paul Wagner's suggestion hit the core. "The base does not need to be rectangular." He even offered to cut it for me. I'm happy with the result. Before, it looked as if the canoe were sitting in a swimming pool. The frameless design seems to help the viewer see beyond the base. Raising it a little from the table seems to help even more, enhancing the floating feeling. What do you think?
I purposely made the reflective base underneath bigger for the sculpture, as I wanted to give an impression that the boat was floating alone in the vast stillness. It looks slightly too big in my opinion. I may remake the base if it continues to bother me. My dear friend Ann Stanton kindly edited the following text. Thank you Ann.
Every one of us is on a boat of life. At some point, we all have to stop rowing, letting the current take us. The uncertainty is sometimes terrifying. It is especially so for those who have been recently diagnosed with dementia.
Handwritten questions from a person with memory loss to her doctor are inscribed in her own words on this canoe. Some of them are:
· “Talk to me about how I go away? How fast”
· “Will I get dificult? I do not want to be nasty to my family.”
· “Know my family – how does that go away – do I not know them?”
· “Can I ask to be uthinized?”
The blanket behind her holds the words “family,” “ friends,” “smile,” “reaching out,” and “compassion.” They will be her warmth no matter how far she drifts.
This piece will be placed on a bronze-colored semitransparent acrylic sheet. Underneath it, I plan to paint words as if they are floating. Some have already sunk outside of her reach, and some others are still on the surface. The words represent our memory.
Photos sometimes show defects that I missed, and I had cut off her blankets a few times already. I may do that more after leaving it aside for a few days.
I'm continuing to produce new work under the theme of dementia. The boat represents a life's passage, and I plan to incorporate it in a few of my pieces in this series. In this piece, questions from a person with dementia to her doctor are inscribed in her words on the canoe:
The blanket behind her holds what are important to her. They are "family, friends, smile, reaching out, and compassion." The finished piece will be placed on a bronze-colored acrylic sheet. Hopefully it will give an illusion of still water.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
About This Blog
This page is an window for you to see my creative process. I would like to encourage you to leave your comments here. What kind of thoughts did my art provoke you? What viewpoint do you agree/disagree to? Your feedback will feed my art going forward. Thank you.