About Celebration

by cindy

This is another painting which burst out of me with stunning immediacy. I began working on it right after I had accompanied a friend to her final chemotherapy treatment. Later, for an exhibit, I wrote about the inspiration behind it:

Late March, 2004

It was one of those days. A slight snow had fallen overnight, blanketing the new growth that had earlier announced the beginning of Spring.

I had arrived at her house early, ready to drive my friend to her last chemotherapy treatment. I could hear the shower running and I knew she couldn’t hear the doorbell, so I sat on her front porch to wait.

Enveloped in the quiet of her porch-side garden, I was struck by the vibrant life around me.

The air was crisp yet slowly warming in the stunningly bright morning sun. Snow still covered the sleeping plants, some already heavy with infant blossoms.

As the snow began melt, it sparkled like a blanket of jewels. Even the water dripping from the roof overhead twinkled as it fell. Everything dazzled in the bright morning light.

Winter was over.

My friend was heading into recovery from cancer.

It was a glorious day with much to be thankful for. It was indeed a day for Celebration.

The painting itself was finished quite quickly and sat, as my work tends to do, for many weeks along a wall in the studio. It sat. I studied it. I turned its face to the wall for a few days. Then I studied it some more. It was missing something.

I knew what I wanted to do but for a long time I lacked the courage to do it. On that singular morning, I had been entranced by the twinkle of those roof-top drips of water. I wanted desperately to capture that element of subtle delight.

I had several small brass buttons which, if placed appropriately on the canvas, would show exactly what I wanted them to show. The problem, however, was that I would have to pierce the canvas for the buttons to be attached. Could I risk destroying what was otherwise a lovely painting? What if I pierced the linen, inserted the buttons, and hated the result? There would be no recourse, no remedy, no return.

Slowly it began to dawn on me: “no guts, no glory”. I marked the placement for each button. Whispering to the canvas my apologies, I took a sharp awl and poked holes throughout the painting. I inserted the buttons and secured them on the back. Placing the work against the wall once more, I studied it carefully.

It was precisely the effect I had been seeking.

Celebration became a groundbreaking work for me. I have never looked back. Most of my work is now mixed with odd bits of this and that: buttons, washers, keys, thread, photographs, trinkets. Celebration was my entrance into an entirely new way of creating. At long last, I embraced the fact that it matters not what others think. It matters only what I—the artist—wishes to say.

To quote Rupi Kaur:

“your art

is not about how many people

like your work

your art

is about

if your heart likes your work

if your soul likes your work

it’s about how honest

you are with yourself

and you

must never

trade honesty

for relatability”