Thursday, January 21, 2010

thank you agnes

I want to take a moment to say thank you to a woman I never knew but who has had a significant impact on my life. Her name is Agnes Peterson. Agnes was the little old lady who used to live in my house. She owned this house for a long time and when she went into a nursing home in the summer of '99, it went up for rent and we moved in; three years later, Agnes passed away and we bought the place.

I was never crazy about Agnes' taste or sense of style: the pale pink and robin's egg blue paint on the walls, the hideous floral wallpaper, the bathroom with the plastic pink "tile" paired with the pink wallpaper with little white hearts, the dark wood paneling in the kitchen. Thankfully, this past summer we finally made the house our own and all of those things are either gone or have been transformed.

At any rate, there are still little bits and pieces of Agnes and her legacy left behind in this little house, and I am finding myself increasingly grateful for them. Now that I have started working with collage, I have found a virtual treasure trove of goodies in the garage and the basement, courtesy of Agnes Peterson: rusty hinges, big old shingle nails, screws and hardware of all shapes and sizes, and perhaps the best of all, a giant Sanka jar filled with beautiful sea glass. I use these ingredients in my collages all the time and every time I do, I think of the woman I never knew. I wonder what she must have been like. Was she artsy? Did she make things? Every year a postcard comes addressed to her advertising a Maine craft festival, so she must have had at least an appreciation for art.

Several years ago, I found a Post-it note attached to a bird identification poster in the garage. It was faded and worn, with "old lady" handwriting in blue ballpoint ink. I read it and immediately saved it; now it's hanging in my studio. It says, "Note: use what talents you possess, for the woods would be silent if no birds sang but the best." I look at this note all the time and it inspires me. It's a nice reminder to keep trying, to keep creating, to keep finding and using my own artistic voice, to express myself in a genuine way and to be true to myself. Thank you, Agnes. Thank you for the supplies, thank you for the inspiration, and thank you for the pep talk...and by the way, thank you for the house.

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