I developed a professional website last year based on the encouragement I received during my ACE Fellowship. Both a fellow Fellow and a mentor at my host institution suggested that I have a unique perspective as an academic and I should share this with the world. Using social media has been an adventure and I have really enjoyed doing my part in increasing awareness of Home Economics and the special topics that I am interested in: STEM Education for Women and Minorities, Sustainability and International Development.
Last May, after the death of my mother, I began a second adventure: being an artist. I suppose that this is a predictable response to the death of a parent.
We all have a voice in our head, the voice of a critic. For me, this voice was the voice of my mother. With my mother’s death I realized this voice had fallen silent. Suddenly, the admonition to be efficient, to not be lazy, to be quiet, to be tidy, to be strong and not whine, to stop asking questions…this voice was gone. I have nothing left prove to anyone. If I couldn’t prove it to my mother who else matters?
With the death of my mother also came the memory of who she thought that I would be. I have always talked about how she bought me my first sewing machine at nine as a birthday and Christmas gift from her and my grandfather, a machine I still have. But after her death I suddenly craved paints. I remembered that she bought me all of my painting supplies for another birthday. An easel, oil paints and brushes, along with the bar of green Lava soap that my grandmother, my painting teacher, insisted was the very best way to clean my brushes.
Mother wanted me to learn patience and using a sewing machine requires patience. Carefully removing mistakes, being willing to start over, all of this I learned when I learned sewing. What if I applied the same careful attention to my other artistic interests? What if being an artist required my willingness and patience? What if practice was all I needed?
The death of my mother has left me feeling free, free to be more. My mother made the life she wanted, she was brave enough to be who she really was. Practice makes perfect and I can be brave too. Hey, did you know I am an artist?
Check out my new website: gwendolynstudio.com