Last Smile (Portrait of My Mother, Jenniese Lights)
mixed media; digital photo collage & digital painting
10.8 x 8 in.
Caregivers surrender their lives to function within the worlds of the people they care for. So, from 1999 until 2013, I gathered skills I needed to become my mother’s caregiver. Decades of experience as a medical doctor helped. But, I couldn’t work as a physician and still have time to enjoy my mother’s company while caring for her. To meet this goal, I had to reconfigure old skills and get new ones. The new skill sets included digital and transitional fine art. I also acquired an MBA.
My mother accepted my transition from medicine to visual art. She marveled at my portfolio and the Internet fascinated her. But, shortly after moving home, Mom’s diagnosis of breast cancer changed our agenda. Time needed to navigate the labyrinth of her care cut short her desire to watch me create art. Even my trusted MacBook was too heavy to carry around. A digital camera I bought for my birthday became the last refuge for my artistic expression. It also gave me the power to document our journey.
My mother died on December 14, 2015. Creating art helped me grieve. Years of gathering knowledge via dissection and microscopic examination helped me discern. Artistic software, made it possible for me to use photo-collaging as a way to have art bend space and time. If I couldn’t turn back time, I would use captured time as the vehicle for my narrative. I moved flowers from a garden bouquet that my youngest brother presented to Mom when my father died. I replaced a wall from the bedroom she died in with an oak tree we swung from as children. Her childhood portrait became the pillow I used to rest my weary head. This was the path I chose to heal and emerge in joy.