Mourning and issues of loss can begin for us even before our loved one has actually died. We see the eventuality coming sooner rather than later, and can gradually lose the person we knew to infirmity or dementia. These changes and losses are daunting issues to deal with on top of the caregiving demands and difficult decisions that often accompany the decline of a vibrant and independent person.
Just as art and ritual can help us to grapple with overwhelming issues in the wake of death, engaging in an artistic exploration during the times leading up to death can be meaningful and helpful too. Currently on display at the Firefly Coffee House Gallery in Oregon, Wisconsin, is the moving work of artist, Kari Radl. The daughter of woodworker and teacher, Skip Johnson, whose stories have been shared on this site in the past, Kari turned to an artistic exercise to help deal with her father's illness and death.
In December of 2006, my father was diagnosed with brain cancer. This series of paintings began while we fought this enemy. After the craniotomy, while he healed, I painted. You can see my techniques slowly grow and mature throughout the series. He fought for 3 years. Except for the singular painting of my parents resting place in North Carolina, all of the landscapes I painted are located here in beautiful Wisconsin. The direction I was facing, the name of the road and gps locations are in the title for those interested in a real journey through the true Wisconsin Farmscapes.
For more of this work, visit Ms. Radl's show, Wisconsin Farmscapes, A Retrospective; on view at The Firefly Coffee House Gallery, 114 North Main St., Oregon, WI through the end of February 2011.
For More about Skip Johnson, visit: