The Timeless Gift
Updated: Nov 8, 2019
The first time I received artwork as a gift was for my 13th birthday. I was at a music festival with my parents on a muggy June day, as was often the case during my youth. Naturally, one of my favorite parts of attending these events (aside from running wild in a pack of children) was wandering through the white rows of arts and crafts tents that lined the festival grounds. There was something so exciting about encountering all these unique and gorgeous items and knowing that the people standing in those booths actually used their own creativity and skills to make them. I guess something inside me had a glimmer of a premonition that this would be part of my future.
I kept coming back to one artist’s booth in particular. She had wild unkempt hair and she didn’t look at me sideways when I was browsing through her print bins. Her work was detailed pen and ink drawings and prints with delicate watercolor washes. The imagery was all myth, magic, and nature. I was smitten.
She warmly approached me as I was looking at one piece depicting a growing fetus inside a seed pod, incubating nestled in a hillside. A tiny rocket ship and the moon and stars were seamlessly incorporated into the lining of the womb. “I read once that babies dream in the womb. I’m not sure how they find that out but I love that idea, don’t you? I created that piece after wondering about that for a while; if they haven’t been born yet and haven’t ever seen the outside world, what are they dreaming about?” She smiled and turned to help someone else lingering in the booth.
I stood there for a moment taking it in. I loved the piece already, but after what she said I knew I couldn’t live without it. I must have relayed the story to my parents; they snuck back to the tent and surprised me with the piece at the end of the festival for my birthday. As we were driving home later that night, passing open farmland flickering with fireflies, I felt sure I now possessed a bonafide piece of the mystery. Twenty-four years later and that artwork is currently hanging in my bedroom, its beauty and poignancy still just as palpable. The piece has accompanied me through every phase of my life: motherhood, my own artistic career, divorce—dismantling and rebuilding facets of myself throughout it all.
As a letter carrier and stay-at-home mother in my early childhood, my parents were not rich by any stretch of the imagination, but they made art a prominent part of our home. Their friends created some pieces, and my parents saved up to buy others. They couldn’t have known at the time that one of their children would grow up to be an artist, and that each one of those paintings or prints hanging in our home would leave an indelible mark on my artistic sensibility and open me to life’s possibilities.
Artwork is powerful like that—it’s so much more than aesthetically pleasing wall dressing. Artwork expands us and serves as a touchstone to remind us of the best parts of our humanity, the parts that are still plugged in to the magic and the mystery and our connection to each other.
Giving artwork this holiday season is surely the best way I can think of to create an upward spiral of positivity. Supporting artists who are living their passion and bringing their creations into the world is only the beginning. Enriching your loved ones’ lives with art gives them not only beauty and a physical reminder of your care and kind intentions for them—the act itself is potentially a gift that will continue to give and reverberate throughout the generations in ways you can’t imagine.
With this year’s 25 Days of Minis, share a piece of original artwork with someone special in your life. Give a gift that’s as wonderfully individual as the person receiving it, a painting and possibly even a story that he or she will cherish and share for years to come.
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