A Legacy of Art

Brenda drawing lighterMothers Day this year falls on the day my mother, Sue Mathys, gave birth to me fifty-nine years ago. Though Mom died when she was a year older than I am now, her presence surrounds me.

Her wooden and fiber ostriches reside in the living room. Huge cloth books lean against boxes of Big Topics at Midnight.  “Houston is Green” in fabric and embroidery hangs above my couch, reminding me that Portland is also green. Her genealogy work enabled me to dive deeply into my ancestors in my writing.

I am my mother’s daughter.

I grew up not only with art hanging on the walls but also silk-screened Christmas cards drying on the dining room floor, sketches on bits of paper around the house and half-finished stitcheries folded up beside Mom’s living room chair. Now my collages, line drawings and the art of friends surround me in my writing studio. Friends like Khara Scott-Bey, whose art fills my book, and friends like Brenda Wills.

Last week in Newport, Oregon as I read an excerpt from the chapter “Forgiveness by Grace,”* Brenda listened and sketched.  Her painting included the ocean at my back, the cathedral of the pines from my reading and me in the room.

How fitting that the artist was Brenda. She is an old friend from my early twenties, and she is one of the few people in my life today who knew my mother. Both of our mothers were artists.

Brenda and I honor our mothers and grandmothers and their art, in whatever form it flowed, on this day honoring all mothers.

*Big Topics at Midnight: A Texas Girl Wakes Up to Race, Class, Gender and Herself page 274

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