I am a storyteller and a narrative painter. I began painting in earnest during a study abroad in Paris. I often describe my experience as “a terrifying foray into freedom.” I had never been out of the country. I had planned to attend classes during the day and hole up in my room at night to finish a novel. Suddenly words seemed inept and scarce. Surprisingly I discovered a halting fluency in watercolor painting.
The Language of Watercolor
In the language of image and color, I could tell stories of imprisonment and freedom I couldn’t express any other way. Winter took over the city – rain, snow, wind – while I kept warm and occupied painting scenes I experienced but hadn’t words to explain. From an unknown ecosystem of memory, a multi-faceted view revealed broken places in me trapped beneath years of silence and denial. In essence, I discovered untended wounds within me and the choices I’d made for the sake of security at the cost of freedom. Showing and telling didn’t change circumstances, but it bore witness, first to myself and then others, to the debilitating effects of my choices. Every part of this healing process connected with the whole. Bearing witness feeds courage, healing and regeneration require courage.
Hope and Fear
Hope and Fear are twin components in my work. We come into the world alone and afraid. Hope is what Love gives. It’s impossible to love without offering hope and impossible to offer hope without receiving it. One of the ways I can extend hope is by inviting others into the “thin places” I attempt to manifest through stories, poems, and paintings.
Learning to listen to the counter-cultural call to “freedom in Christ Jesus” is always a challenge. I depend on God for the courage to hope. Hope often seems like a risk. My faulty thinking runs along this path: If I don’t hope, I won’t be disappointed and if I am not disappointed, I haven’t failed and if I haven’t failed, I haven’t been wrong. And if I haven’t been wrong, I won’t be shamed. I won’t appear stupid. No one listens to an ignorant failure. I am trusting God for the courage to live in the freedom I have been given and speak up even when I am in the minority…Of course this pure foolish thinking. God has never led me astray.
C.S. Lewis, Brett Lott, Calvin Miller, Makoto Fujimura, Henri Nowen, Dan Allender, Tim Keller, and Eugene Petersen. These scholars have deeply influenced my writing. While painting informs visually and gives me a measure of delight, writing with its demand for precision is by far one of the most powerful methods of healing, connecting and transforming practices I know.
“Writing is a process in which we discover what lives in us. The writing itself reveals to us what is alive in us. The deepest satisfaction of writing is precisely that it opens up new spaces within us of which we were not aware before we started to write. To write is to embark on a journey whose final destination we do not know. Thus, writing requires a real act of trust. We have to say to ourselves: ‘I do not yet know what I carry in my heart, but I trust that it will emerge as I write.’ Writing is like giving away the few loaves and fishes one has, trusting that they will multiply in the giving. Once we dare to ‘give away’ on paper the few thoughts that come to us, we start discovering how much is hidden underneath these thoughts and gradually come in touch with our own riches.” – Henri Nouwen
I earned my MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. I am a former William Jessup University adjunct professor. Under the umbrella of Mining With a Feather, I facilitate generative and contemplative writing workshops. I am an affiliate of Amherst Writers and Artists. My work has appeared in SARTS: SOCIETY FOR THE ARTS IN RELIGIOUS AND THEOLOGICAL STUDIES; Metonym Literary Journal; The Chrysalis Reader; Ruminate Magazine.