One of the things that drives me as an artist is a desire to connect with people on a personal level through artwork. Â I find it especially amazing when that connection is made to a person I’ve never met, spoken with, or written to. Â When I hear of someone who received a piece that brought tears to their eyes.
It’s the details that make this possible. Â It’s not that the work is beautiful or fascinating or engaging, but that it connects with the details of someone’s life. Â That’s why the maps are so powerful — because they wrap around the part of a person’s soul that still resides in that place.
My most recent commission was a series of 14 awards for the Women’s Center of Lakeland Community College. Â I went in there armed with my portfolio of corporate awards, thinking it would be a pretty straightforward gig. Â I could not have been more wrong.
In the past, they had given out formal awards of achievement based on community service and social outreach. Â But in an effort to honor what they called “hidden heroes”, this year nominees were “women who lived their lives out of the spotlight, whose hard work, selflessness, and ability to overcome adversity were examples to those around them”. Â Instead of a formal nomination, they asked for a personal letter about the candidate, and how they touched and inspired others.
Needless to say, the letters were beautiful. Â As I worked on the designs, I knew they had to be incorporated into the finished pieces somehow. Â So I took exerpts from each person’s letter and transferred them onto the background of the award. Â In deciding what imagery to use, I was struck by two character traits that kept emerging. Â The women were either described in terms of their strength — their ability to stand up in the face of adversity, to overcome challenges; or their resilience — to love equally, to not let things challenge them, and to let all of life’s difficulties just flow over them, undisturbed. Â The images that kept coming to mind were mountains, and water. Â Aside from both being found in nature, I found them to have a lovely balance — the base of the mountains contains the water, and over time the water carves out the shape of the base of the mountain. Â A bit of yin and yang, just as both attributes are found in all of us. Â I used a curved font and blue color to create the water, and the etched copper to create the mountain.
The ceremony was lovely. Â I was asked to say a few words, under the impression that there would be perhaps a few dozen people. Â When 400 showed up, well, I was reminded that sometimes we are a part of something much bigger than ourselves. Â When you hear the moving stories and see people brushing back tears, it is a beautiful thing, and a privilege to have been a part of it.
Take care, and have a lovely week~