For me, art is a journey that began long before I was aware of what “art” was, really. I grew up in Mobile, Ala. I spent summers in the country with my grandmother. We called her Big Mama, befitting her strong-as-an-ox, larger-than-life presence.
She was an artist in the truest sense of the word. She was a natural artist who created something out of not much of anything all the time.
Because she didn’t have much money and no one in the country went into town to fancy stores to buy wallpaper, she made her own. She took the pages of magazines and made glue (flour and water) to plaster the walls—floor to ceiling. Every room was covered in faces, words, ads and random parts of overlapping images. There was always something new to find each time you walked into a room because you likely missed this spot or that spot the last time you had been there.
She made her own clothes by hand (no sewing machine). From the scraps of material left over from sewing her dresses and “britches” for others, she would sit on her front porch and make boldly colored and patterned quilts. (Luckily, I have one of her quilts in my closet. It is one of my most precious possessions.)
She made her own peanut brittle. She took berries from the fields and cooked blackberries and dumplings. She raised her own chickens. She was constantly in motion–doing something, making something. It was all so effortless and natural for her. She inhaled life, took what it gave her and made what she could of it.
I think that’s why I’m drawn to collage. Those little pieces of paper–ripped apart and reassembled into patchwork creations aimed at offering some new perspective–give me such pleasure. Perhaps it is my own form of quilting, sewing and picking sweet berries from my field of imagination.
And perhaps it is because of this connection to my beginning that in my artwork I am drawn to bold color, pattern and the continuity of the circle as a symbol of renewal and hope and unending beginnings.
I just hope I can be half as creative as Big Mama.