Where are you Brenda Draney?

It was blustery.  I thought about the slowest way I could possibly drive to the Esker Foundation, located on 9th.  I have attended other events related to the exhibit (film viewing, panel discussion, artist talk) since the opening of Fiction/Non-fiction.  There was no way weather was going to keep me from a painting opportunity where Brenda Draney would be doing some sharing…some wandering…some listening.  Everything I’ve been ‘incubating’ about since Mom’s passing (story, connection, identity, loss), would be a part of the afternoon’s experience…so, I was going to forge through the weather, regardless.

Once I arrived, I chose a seat that faced out toward the street…wide, tall windows stretched before me.  I could see onto the neighbouring roofs and watch the snow blowing.  Above me, the pod that houses the administrative space…a nest-like feature, caused an immediate sense of comfort and coziness.  Meeting Sharon, the artist across from me, led to a very quick and impact-full connection.  I felt happy.

I had dumped a pile of old black and whites into a zip lock bag before leaving home and proceeded to shuffle through them, looking for references. It didn’t take me long.  I won’t go into details…I won’t share the stories that connect me with the images…but, I will say that there was an immediacy.  Topics shared on my visits with Brenda and Sharon yesterday afternoon included, but certainly weren’t limited to; identity, memory, stories, mothers, objects of affection, nostalgia, art, teaching, journals, writing, voice.

At the conclusion of the afternoon, I felt so empowered and so grateful.  Brenda Draney is like an angel who was brought into my circle for the purpose of some reflection…some connection and some healing.  It was the most delicious of afternoons, and certainly a gift to myself.  Thank you, Brenda.

P1140140 P1140146 P1140147Technically speaking, it was a tricky thing to choose to use greys for the entire day…but, this session wasn’t so much about the technical aspects of watercolour (a completely foreign medium), but about meaning. I spoke to Sharon about the curtains that Mom had sewed on her treadle sewing machine, even when we were in military-poverty in those early years living in Ste. Sylvestre, Quebec.

Incubator: Brenda Draney from Latitude 53 on Vimeo.

Brenda Draney, Church 2012

Brenda Draney, Church 2012


Given that I was schooled in the United States for a good portion of my education, included in the curriculum, were bits of American history.  As I sat watching Lincoln last night with some of my sister-friends, I remembered writing a report in Grade three about some of his accomplishments and, of course, this morning, dug through my sorted archives and found this crayon illustration, all that remains over these many years, of my report.

Abe LincolnI’m certain that the memories of these lessons and the experience of the then-patriotic sensibility of the citizens that surrounded me, caused me to feel more attached to the narrative.  I remember the morning pledge…hand held over heart and the flags flying from poles in the neighbourhoods where I lived.

From Wikipedia: Lincoln is a 2012 American historical drama film directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as United States President Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln.

I think that it’s important to remember that the film is in the genre of historical drama.  As such, it can feel long at times.  Some of the reading material that I choose takes on this same sensibility, but my interest in the context overrides my frustration with the historical detail and seeming analysis.  Other films that have had these sorts of moments, but have been more successful are The Iron LadyJ. Edgar and Nixon.  I think that in these, devices such as flash back and a more intimate psychological development of the protagonist, created more empathy in the viewer.

Steven Spielberg gives us some idea of Lincoln’s personal struggle in the scenes shared between Lincoln and Mary.  Lincoln’s admission that he wish to crawl into the ground next to his son Willie every day of his life comes out of one of the most powerful of these scenes.

I don’t think that anyone can deny that the basis for this story is a powerful one and that it represents a concept that citizens of the world continue to struggle with and that is the sense of lawful equality among all people…dignity…and justice.  And because this is such a huge concept, at times, this movie does not feel LARGE enough.

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution reads:

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


Meeting Karsten Heuer

Teacher’s Convention this year was inspiring.  For one thing, I was privileged to meet Karsten Heuer who exemplifies, for me, someone who truly LIVES a connection with nature, along with his wife, Leanne Allison and his son, Zev.  Through a vast landscape that straddles the northern Yukon and Alaska, Karsten and Leanne joined a migratory herd of 123,000 caribou on a five month journey.  I purchased the film Being Caribou for our school some years ago and shared it with many students over the years.  I sat in the dimly lit theater, viewing powerful images and listening to Karsten’s story of landscape and found myself in tears more than once. Once concluded, I brought my own copy of the book, Being Caribou, forward for Karsten’s signing.


I left one of my postcards for him to share with his son, Zev.

Although the time we shared was fleeting, I felt a deep connection for Karsten’s work and for his passion.  It was a very special moment.

Park's Canada Post Card: Initiative for the sake of the Woodland Caribou

The Jesse Tree: Tradition and Story

Our Jesse Tree: St. Albert the Great Parish

So many years ago, my art and religion students helped me make a set of symbols for our Jesse Tree at our parish church.  All of this time later, it warms my heart to see the symbols gradually added to the bare tree throughout Advent.  I love that a history is created through our art and that these rituals each year keep us in touch with our story.  I also enjoy that in the photograph we can see a titch of the Easter Candle and the upper section to the baptismal font.  Awesome!

The story of the Jesse Tree has its beginnings with the old Testament and I will include some links and a bit of the context here.  I am hoping to begin my own set of Jesse Tree ornaments for next year and I particularly admire these.

Jesse Tree along side Illuminated Text

Day 24: Star – God’s call to us to follow the Light John 1:1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.