Meditation in Digital Charcoal
My paternal grandmother, Clara Sherman, would be 127 years old were she still alive. It wasn’t known by her grandchildren until after her passing that she was an amazing artist using charcoal as her medium. She was raised in a small, pastoral farm community in Wisconsin after her grandparents had emigrated from Ireland. Grew up, married and raised three sons on her own after divorcing her abusive husband; something unheard of in the early 1900’s. I remember her as being a bit rough; don’t recall her smiling very much and a diehard Cubs fan. She passed away at a nursing home in Wisconsin after watching the Cubs lose another game, with my Dad in 1975.
Dad had unearthed 3 of Clara’s works, all still life; had them preserved and beautifully framed. I named the image you see here Moon River many years ago. When the 3 kids would go home for family get-togethers I would stare at the picture and quietly say, “There’s only one thing I would like from Mom & Dad, that picture from Grandma.”
The years moved forward and Moon River would find its home on different walls depending on how Mom was decorating at any given time. After Dad’s funeral we (myself and my 2 older brothers) my sister-in-law and my youngest son, set to the task of cleaning out Dad’s home for selling. And there she was…Moon River, hidden in the closet waiting for her new home.
The image had been sitting on my fireplace mantel for a few months and I’d wanted to work with the picture somehow. One night last week I took the picture, brought it into the kitchen, placed it on the table and started taking pictures with my iPhone camera; oh it felt so right…even magical. I experimented with different apps, not wanting to stray too far from the original work. It really felt like a meditation working with and exploring a work of art that had been created perhaps a hundred years ago.
One of the renditions I call “Moon Glow”, has been accepted into an iPhonography contest where 100 of the best images will be on display in an exhibit at a Soho Gallery during the holidays. What would Clara think of all of this; perhaps a bit shy and not wanting to stand out or show herself off? I have a feeling she was like Emily Dickinson (they found 1000 poems in a drawer after her passing). I want to believe she drew these pictures for her own satisfaction and fulfillment; to take her mind off of what probably was not the easiest of lives. What an honor to take her work out of the closet and breathe new life into it. What a gift I have been given in finally finding and accepting my own creativity and recognizing the shoulders than I stand upon in my own heritage.
Thanks Clara with all my heart!
Also posted today over at Vision & Verb: a global gathering of women of this age.