Last Friday, the 21st, I had one of the best experiences of my art career at the Petersburg Home for Ladies. I think some backtracking is necessary in order to understand the full extent as to why that day meant so much to me. Flashback to when my fascination with Alzheimer's disease was just beginning.
It's 2007, and I'm a junior in high school.
I had just re-read Natalie Babbit's fantasy children's novel, Tuck Everlasting. For those of you who don't know the plot - it's about a girl who runs away from home and discovers a family who drank from a spring that made them immortal. (There's a lot more to it that I highly recommend you read for yourself.) But I remember the part of the book that stayed with me most was when Mae Tuck, the mother of the family, does the very simple, everyday act of styling her hair. Babbit writes,
"She did this quickly and skillfully without a single glance in the mirror. Mae Tuck didn't need a mirror, though she had one propped up on the washstand. She knew very well what she would see in it; her reflection had long since ceased to interest her. For Mae Tuck, and her husband, and Miles and Jesse, too, had all looked exactly the same for eighty-seven years".
photos by Mike Guyer
As I mentioned, my interest in Alzheimer's disease had already begun, and I remember when I read that paragraph - I felt that these two things were somehow connected. An act as simple and comfortable as putting up your hair, something you do every single day, could be made impossible once this disease decides to take you. Scary. So I did what I always do, and I put my fear into my art. At 17, this was my first installation. There's 216 photos total hanging in that left photo above, all of my sister putting her hair up. I edited the photos to have a green tinge to them to symbolize disease and it took me three years before I came up with a better way to visually represent how terrifying this disease really is...
2010-11 was when the "Remember Me" fundraiser started and I've been fundraising every November since, for National Alzheimer's Awareness Month with the money being sent directly to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America. The "Remember Me" fundraiser has raised close to $2000 since it was established and it is what I am most proud of about my business.
So how does this relate to the title of this blog, "Reflections Under the Tree"? We have to fast forward to August 9th, 2014! The day Ben and I got married and we had the most wonderful wedding photographer of all time: Kristin Partin (along with her amazing assistant, Kelly)! Photo below by Kristin Partin Photography
I could say a million nice words about Kristin but what was cool was she liked me too! After finding out that I was an artist, Kristin asked me if I would be interested in teaching a painting class to her family as a gift for Tracy, her mother's, birthday. Look at how cute they are!!!
We had a lot of fun and it was there that Tracy saw my business card with the drawing "Three Mees and Trees" on the front, and it struck a chord with her.
The drawing was years old, something I had made based off of a photo Ben had taken of me in our first year of college. This was back when the claustrophobia of downtown would overwhelm me and we would drive to Goochland to soak up the trees and tall grass. Tracy saw that drawing and she saw potential for so much more...
Stay tuned, Part 2 will be up tomorrow!
Hi friends! Welcome to the blog! I'm Mandy and I'm an artist, blogger & founder of the "Artists to Know" interview series. Here you'll find photos of my latest art adventures, furniture makeover projects & advice from successful artists!
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