Private Art, Public Response / by Jeannine Cook

Every artist is sometimes impelled to create art that is not really intended for the big wide world. It is art that is perhaps made in reaction to a situation, a response to something that is joyful, troubling or passion-stirring. Often, that work is put away and not displayed in public.

This has happened to me several times, and my flat file drawers can attest to these drawings and paintings. However, once in a while, there is a situation where I suddenly remember one that seems to answer the parameters of some juried exhibition, and I think, well, it is worth a try.

The San Diego chapter of the Women's Caucus for Art has started running an on-line series of juried shows. One of them, "Transformation", seemed an appropriate place to enter one of my "private art" silverpoint drawings, Vertebral Distractions. I had created it from a small print out that my husband had been given at the Mayo Clinic after a portion of his spine had been examined. This small image was eloquent proof of why he suffers so much from chronic pain. I was so dismayed for him that I tried to think of all the every day joys surrounding us that could distract him - perhaps! - from his pain. It was a moment when we had a juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron who had adopted a shallow bird bath on our front deck as his personal pond for the summer. Meanwhile, the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were flying their marvellous looping displays, butterflies flittered and the phalaenopsis orchids were a-bloom.

I was thus delighted to learn that I had won a prize for this silverpoint drawing, Vertebral Distractions, in the SD-WCA show. It was a double validation from the Judge, Hazel Ross, because, as I have said, this was a very private work, not intended for public viewing. It makes me realise afresh that no matter what one's original intentions, if an artist creates something born of deep feelings, it will resonate with someone, somewhere... the eternal conversations of human creativity.