Art Resolutions is the third year of an evolving resolution to elevate every day by looking at art and creativity as a life’s philosophy.
After a four month hiatus (which I will explain at a later date), Mother’s Day may not be an obvious occasion at which to pick up this blog dedicated to art and creativity. But not so surprising thinking of my creative mother and celebrating the first Mother’s Day without her. So, this entry is dedicated first, to her, but also to the wonderful women I know and know of (and even a few men) who care for and nurture others — who mother creativity — who make our lives fuller for the inventive and loving ways they make us fly — for the artists who merge art and mothering.
Merging artist and mother.
Surely I was lucky to have an artistic mother with great creative skills. Even at a young age, I knew she was not ordinary. With no money, she managed to build an attractive home, memorable and plentiful meals, clean pressed clothes in good condition, and unusual and extraordinary gifts. Mom’s sweat equity went into amazingly decorated cakes, beautifully constructed graduation dresses, rehabilitating garage sale figure skates and transforming milkman delivery baskets into dolly beds. When I interviewed her for a graduate project and asked her to define creativity, she told me, “Creativity is making something from nothing.” At that, she was a master.
For those of us who have also lived our professional lives as creatives, the merging of art and motherhood is symbiotic. In the same way we look at our children’s different gifts and grow, push, guide and celebrate them–those of us committed or professed to the practice of creativity and the importance of art must do the same for ourselves and each other. And, we do.
A brief history and a call to action.
Like most major holidays, Mother’s Day has become commercially important. But, early Mother’s Days began as events that leveraged and focused on caring and nurturing society.
Around 1870, Julia Ward Howe called for Mother’s Day to be celebrated each year to encourage pacifism and disarmament amongst women. It continued to be held in Boston for about ten years under her sponsorship, but died out after that.
In 1907, Anna Jarvis held a private Mother’s Day celebration in memory of her mother, Ann Jarvis, in Grafton, West Virginia. Ann Jarvis had organized “Mother’s Day Work Clubs” to improve health and cleanliness.
As mothers, now as much or more than ever, we need to revive a Mother’s Day where we collectively and actively use our intuitive insights and innate maternal talents to heal and lead. This will take, first, the ability to see a world that is different. And, secondly, it will take a commitment, hard work, and creativity to use these skills to create a better world for our children and theirs. This is my charge to all mothers this Mother’s Day.
Mother’s Day and art resolutions.
With that unceremonious and significant “ask” out of the way, let me wind back to connecting Mother’s Day to art resolutions. I wanted to show all those things that are related to both — growing, spring, beauty and legacy. And, I wanted to know why the second week of May was chosen to celebrate.
I couldn’t find a history for selecting the date, but it has always made sense to me. Many mothers garden. Mine did out of necessity as did others– done to nourish the family. But there was also a pleasure in well-tended rows and tall, healthy plants. As women, many of us enjoy the process of planting a seed and watching it grow, change, and bloom. As spring is the season of birth and beginnings, symbolism is ever present. Why are our connections with our mothers and children so compelling? How could they not be? We began in them.
Beyond the symbolism of birth, the garden and flowers have everything to do with our natural appreciation for beauty. Flowers also connect us to our strongest sense — smell. For me and I suspect for others, flowers are also connection to our pasts, especially legacy flowers that grandmothers handed down to our mothers who handed them down to us. The scent of lilacs will always remind me Carrie Scott’s beautiful deep plum french lilacs at the farm in Lafox and Grandma Pierick who loved them dearly. Peonies remind me of my mother who cut them each spring from the long hedge in Lafox and put them on the table in long necked cranberry glass vase, a wedding gift used only on special occasions and during peony season.
So my art resolution for this day is in gathering a bouquet of the ways flowers have inspired and enhanced my life. Beginning with a bouquet I received from Thomas and Philip yesterday and joined by a carafe I painted inspired by birthday bouquet from Philip, flowers from the Mt. Much more gardens–red peonies (like my favorites from LaFox), duotone violet irises from the McFarland house, white irises from Mom’s house, Siberian irises I bought for Muchmore. Though they were not flowers, we had a huge plot of rhubarb in the garden at LaFox. Commemorating it is my favorite of my Mother’s pies–rhubarb custard make in the Vermont pie plate given by my dear sister of choice and mother of my god-twins, Rosemary. Finally, a photo a garden of Be a, a master gardener, dear friend and mentor, and grower of yet another generation of wise, wonderful and creative women.
To the people in my life– the sons, the family, the sisters of choice, the friends and dear ones who work to find the right thing to say, who stand by me in good and bad times, who push me to achieve my full potential, who love me unconditionally, who complete the mothering without the mother. I thank you with the fullest of hearts.