Witness at a moment of discovery

by DRM

Painting by Rita Rogers

When I grew up there were no straight lines.

My mother is an artist.  She taught me every line has life.  A drawing doesn’t represent, it breathes.

When I was a teenager my mother went through a creative transition.  She didn’t paint as much.  She learned printmaking and produced a series of aquatints and etchings.  This was a period of transition and turmoil in our family life — although none of us realized that this turmoil was just the harbinger of days of destruction.

This is one of the most vivid memories of my adolescence and I don’t know whether its an accurate remembrance:

I was at the kitchen table.  It was a Spring evening.  All of us kids were scattered around the house.  My father was probably at the table or sitting by the fireplace reading a book. My mother came hurrying down the stairs with a handful of sheets of  heavy watercolor paper.

Each sheet was filled with a few broad strokes in red and blue.  Some  framed a triangle over a square.  Others two parallel lines with one horizontal crossing crossing, like the rung of a ladder.

She showed me the sheets.

Her excitement was contagious.  The images resonated.  In their spare elegance, they were filled with energy and passion.

The next few years she painted into those themes as if they were a formal structure, and the paintings teased out something that hadn’t been in her work before.

The power was palpable.

Sometimes when I look at one of her paintings, I see her that night at our kitchen table, showing her teenage son something she couldn’t explain, that he didn’t know quite what to say, because she needed to show somebody, smile her giddy smile, and confirm that she’d found a path that she couldn’t wait to explore.