The Cottage has been in our family for almost 100 years, and is now sheltering its seventh generation. Over the years, innumerable photographs have been taken of the rustic house, the area, and the activities various family members and friends have participated in. Some places, scenes, and activities have become iconic. Some are so often photographed that it becomes difficult to identify any of the resulting pictures with either a date or a specific photographer.
I challenged myself this summer to look for new ways to feature both its universality and its icons in my paintings.
The family gathers there, certainly, to keep in touch with one another, to renew old friendships and develop new relationships with more recent family members. But we go there also for the reminiscence, to revisit our history and remember our roots. We go to reconnect with ourselves and our beginnings, revisiting our youth through the young people frolicking as we once did, and to accept our changing position as we find ourselves joining the ranks of the older generations.
The painting “Down the Spiral Stair” (#100803) depicts not only a unique feature of our family home but represents a universality, as well, as we glimpse the twisting route most of our lives take. It’s both a link and path between what we’ve come from and where we’re going. As children, we may press our faces to the posts at the top and peer down, wondering where those steps will lead. We proceed step by step through life, trusting in the old traditions, like a well worn banister, to guide and steady us. The banister is pieced together of several strips of wood, just as our clans are blends of a variety of families and backgrounds, with spouses and adopted children grafted in to become one with the rest.
There are dark corners where the dust collects, and mementoes that those who have gone before us have acquired and personalized along the way. What else will we find along the way? What traces will we leave behind us? What new discoveries will we make once we navigate that final step?