Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

Apifera Farm is a registered 501 [c][3]. All images ar©Katherine Dunn.





Monday, April 14, 2008

Art makers for life - rejoice!



Dear art makers for life,

I was moved to write this letter to honor all of you who create forever, and don't stop. I was inspired to do this while going through my father's belongings after his death last month. I came upon many photographs, as he was an avid picture taker.
This photo of me made me smile, and it made me see that I am really that same person - I have changed little as far as my essence goes. I can tell exactly what I am thinking and feeling. I know the field I'm standing in, and I know the dog at my feet. The untidy under shirt and baggy pants - not too unlike the outfit you'll find me in now some 50 years later. I hate to admit it, but that little roll in my middle at age 3 that disappeared in my younger beauty days, well, it's back now. So, I am just like her.

I scribbled on paper back then, and painted things. I still do. I haven't given up. I am not a 'dabbler'. It's my biggest asset to myself - "I will always draw or paint something." Like the knowledge one owns the house and has a small nest egg in the bank, I have this thing I do and it brings me...stability. While the financial ups and downs are constant, the art making itself is like an electric cord from the grounded earth to my hands, and the art is like the music that goes back out to the wind. Without the art, I don't think I'd stay tethered too long to any one spot on the ground. I would be alone without it. Completely alone.

My father was an artist. He painted and drew. He was an architect of great success and designed many of the buildings at Mayo Clinic and Notre Dame. He travelled extensively in Europe for his job with 3M and he always had sketches and things around. Our art was very different, he understood perspectives and could draw a room to scale in seconds. I never had a real interest in perspective, but admired his abilities. When I went to help clean out his belongings, my mother casually showed me a small drawing he had done just two days before his death. He was unable to speak much then, and hospice had brought in a hospital bed for him. My mother, who had lived with this person for 53 years and knew him well, gave him a pad of paper to show her how they should situate the hospital bed in the living room. When I saw the little drawing, my heart smashed in pieces, but more out of pride and love, not sadness. It looks like that of the child's hand, abstract. I felt like I had stumbled on a Picasso, and quietly asked if I could have it.

While the drawing was just a sweet story for my mother to tell me, to me it was the culmination of a life. For even in his final days, as he struggled to sketch where his death bed should be placed, drawing was his means to communicate.
I think it is his most humble creation, but his most beautiful.

Like the drawings I was doing at the age the picture was taken here, it is very raw, and it made sense to the maker.

14 comments:

Judy Wise said...

How moving and beautiful. Like you, this thing I do and love so much is and has always been my life line and the one consistent thing in my life. I get so much joy out of coming here and wish you well. xo

Mare said...

Beautiful....just beautiful.... I have a note my beloved Grandmother Mary wrote to me while she was suffering from the later stages of Lou Gherig's disease. She was having trouble speaking. Her lovely handwriting was gone, and in it's place was a child's scrall...i won't say what she wrote. It wasn't the words that mattered the most to me, but the writing. She has been gone for more than 30 years, but her note is still with me and so is her love.

Red Fish Circle said...

Thanks so much for sharing this Katherine. What beautiful memories and observations about your dad. Your words resonate deeply with me.

Dan said...

Hey Katherine! What a lovely post. I treasure the moment, in my teens, when I realized that I was a "lifer" - & that the world is as beautiful as we make it. Consolations on your father's passing - every day I think of my dad's stories, songs, and especially, his relation to the land (his art). It seems that the moment of his death he switched from being outside to inside. I recently found one of his drawings, done when he was a teenager perhaps, of a pair of yearling mules. The careful attention to how a mule should look reminded me again of how much he loved the farmer's life - he had chosen the right path! Thanks so much for stirring these thoughts. Your Dan (Dutton)

Anonymous said...

oh katherine--so touching. thanks for sharing that. when i saw the drawing i assumed it was yours as a young child. It looks so much like my kids drawings when they were very young.
peace
m

thorngren said...

I don't know what else to write, but, thank you.
Thank you, for your blog.

Cathy said...

Your musings about your dad and his life are so beautiful and moving.

I love that picture of you as a toddler!

Carla Sonheim said...

oh!

coloredsock said...

WOW. his drawing is just how i imagined it when you told me...picasso esque and innocent and free and like you said so perfectly, 'raw and made sense to the maker.' what a treasure. it's inspiring... and oh baby, i love that picture of you! makes me smile so big. thanks for sharing these most tender moments you are living. xojenny

brabarella said...

my mother-in-law was an artist and last night the grief finally hit (she died last monday) -- when i was digging thru my drawer of cards to find sympathy cards for my sister-in-law and ex-husband -- what did i find? a box of vintage post-a-lettes she had given me years ago with simple line drawings and messages like get well soon, congratulations, etc. i've avoided photos so far...i am so glad to have your blog -- it is comforting hearing you share your grief process...thank you...

Tracie Lyn Huskamp said...

Katherine... how true.. how true... I can not image one day or even one moment without art. I am constantly creating with thoughts, words, ideas, my hands, in everything I do.

Thank you for sharing such a beautiful remembrance!

shepherdgirl said...

Thanks for writing everyone. Losing a loved one is a shared human experience at some point in life. I have really been touched by people own stories, thank you.

I really relate to what Dan says above, "It seems that the moment of his death he switched from being outside to inside...". I so get that, and feel that. It was like the love and pride and admiration I had for my dad, and vice versa, got bigger, and it's like a coin you carry in your bag where ever you go. I think that was the biggest surprise, how I really FEEL him every where. A few of my friends have said this, it is like they explode all around. It makes me feel too more confidant that these bodies are just our human cars to get aroun din down here.

Anonymous said...

one of the most beautiful, poignant things i have read for a long time. what a wonderful human being your father produced.

Abby Creek Art said...

Beautiful post, Katherine. The way you have written about your dad is is a thing to behold.

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~