Art Works

A number of women in our writing group have amazing talents in regards to the arts. Some of their pieces are shared here. We hope you enjoy them.

By Peggy Clover

The topic of Rebecca’s shoes came up in my earliest writings after she died. I was actually surprised by how sacred they became to me and how demonstrative they became of her life’s journey. One thing I knew: I could not throw them away. I photographed them, drew pictures of them and wrote about them. But for 18 years they remained haphazardly packed in plastic bins in the attic.

From the beginning of my grief, I used art to express feelings and transform objects into memories. Last fall, those shoes were calling to me again. When I opened the first box of shoes I was actually glad to see that many of them were falling apart. So much easier to part with them when they are like that.

Still, before I could let them go, I decided to make little clay miniature versions of the shoes. The process actually turned out to be easier than I expected. I drew an outline of the sole of each shoe, then scaled it down to a 4×6 print. From that, I made a clay sole—then worked from there. It was a joyful project and I was pleased as each little shoe took form.

But I want to emphasize how many years some of these little steps can take. When I packed those shoes away, I never thought I could open that box without sinking back into that deep sadness of 1996.

The miniature shoes are made from earthenware clay, fired once, then painted with acrylic paints. They warm my heart to see them and I was able to throw away the old rotting shoes. I can keep these little miniature reminders.

I call it “downsizing.”






An earlier story of Rebecca’s Shoes is included in Farther Along: The Writing Journey of Thirteen Bereaved Mothers.


By Monica Sleap

Irene with hot chocolat in Paris

~Watercolor by Monica Sleap


By Peggy Clover
Self Portrait by Peggy Clover

“Caught between Remembrance and Resilience” was a phrase from a newspaper article that grabbed my attention. Those words seemed to be an accurate description of the emotional struggle that was raging within my spirit. It was this phrase that I tried to represent in my self-portrait.
I felt the sense of resilience could be achieved by having the head tilted and gazing upward. This upward gaze is symbolic of a hopeful longing. I was essentially attempting to portray an outlook of resilience and hope.

I was surprised by the overwhelming sadness that emerged from the clay in the earliest stages of the work.  If I had wished to portray such an intensely emotional, piece, I could have allowed it to continue to develop as it was, but I really needed some aspect of hope. I do not think I achieved that to the degree I wanted, but I decided to let my clay speak as my heart directed.
By placing the hand over the heart, I could feel the pains of remembrance. The rings on my fingers are copies of ones that belonged to my mother and my daughter. The folds of the clothing emerged as I worked. I felt that the carving and curves added a sense of energy needed for the process of moving forward.

When the portrait was completed, I smashed parts of it with a hammer. Then I tried to put the pieces back together. This was an extremely necessary part of the project for me. It is symbolic of how broken I feel. Yet, in spite of the roughly shattered pieces, I have tried to put things together again.

Although the sculpture has been repaired, it will never go back together the way it was before! Some of the pieces are missing and lost forever. It will forever be a broken sculpture in spite of the fact that it appears to have been glued firmly back together and in one piece.
~Peggy Clover

Lean on Me Plaster Carving by Peggy Clover
6″x 4″x 4″

This family portrait was one of my first creative efforts following the death of my daughter, Rebecca. Sapped of my strength, all I could think of was my great need to have somebody to lean on.  Alone, we are all weak, but when we cling tightly together, we gain strength. The sculpture shows a solid strength.

The smooth finish, as well as the shape and size of this piece seemed to invite the viewer to embrace this group of figures with their own hands. Those who reach out and dare to hold this sculpture are given the opportunity to discover the intricate carving hidden on the bottom of the work. Into the bottom of each figure, I carved a heart—then joined each heart with a neverending circle.

For the first time I am forced to consider: Do I represent my family with five figures or six?  In spite of the facts of my physical reality, the question is still unthinkable…impossible! Six figures? Yes! The bond of love that was shared will always be a part of all of us.~Peggy Clover


Transformation: Rebecca’s Clothes
By Peggy Clover

I don’t think many people INTEND to keep boxes and boxes of things that once belonged to their child who died, it’s just that we  really don’t know what to do with them. They become “all we have left” of those kids and we just cannot part with whatever last little bit that we have.

But as the years have passed and I occasionally open a box here and there, I realize that the contents of those boxes are NOT what I have left of Rebecca.  What is left of her now is really in my heart and in the hearts and memories of all those who loved her.

But still, I can’t seem to throw anything away. These were HER treasures and now I am the guardian. And thoughts whirl through my mind—what good are boxes of old clothes, shoes, dance costumes? Still no answers. But after about 13 years, I began to tackle some of the old clothing.

As a textile artist, I began to see more than old clothes. When I was finally able to look at t-shirts and jeans as pieces of fabric that I could transform into works of art (and memories), I was able to take the first step of removing some of the clothing from boxes.

First I had to photograph each piece. (I needed a record, in case I might forget.) Then I cut the large solid pieces of fabric from the fronts, backs and sleeves. Seeing the clothing as new art supplies gave me relief—letting go of the tears and keeping the memories.

It took more than a year to complete the project. I created an accordion “book” that contains 48 “pages” of fabric about 1.5” by 5.5”  along with 24 photos of Rebecca that I scanned onto fabric and stitched to alternating pages. The t-shirt fabric is backed with denim jean fabric. I screenprinted a quote from Rebecca’s quote book on the denim as well as screen prints of her signature. It said, “Take my advice. Carve your name into everything you own. Make them remember you.”  She was always signing her name on things—my new address book, new calendar, my note pads, trying out various styles of penmanship. 

The accordion folds up into a box that I painted, and on the inside cover which I lined with denim, I embroidered a quote by W.S. Merwin:

“Your absence has gone throughout me

Like thread through a needle.

Everything I do is stitched with its color.”                         

Rebecca’a absence will always run through me, but so will her presence.

Now, what to do with the other dozen boxes?



4 thoughts on “Art Works”

  1. These works by Monica and Peggy are even more powerful when I look at them today. Monica’s portrait of Irene: Irene will be remembered by many for her resilience, gentleness, curiosity and love of learning. Her elegance is captured in the portrait.

    Peggy’s sculptures show the beauty and hope that can come from brokenness and the comfort of a family connection that remains despite the absence of one member.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mary Johnson said:

    Isn’t she the cutest??????

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Peter Johnson, MD said:

    Love the image!

    Liked by 1 person

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