This poem is in memory of my mother, Mary Arline Perry Crews, an accomplished artist who taught me most of what I know about art and encouraged me in every endeavor, as well as writing. She passed away Aug. 10, 2006, after a tough fight with throat cancer. The last piece of art she critiqued for me was Arched Patterns—Japanese Magnolias of this series. It has been produced into a limited edition print, and the original was juried into the 11th Biennial Degas National Exhibition, in New Orleans, La.
Flowers as Portraits—Japanese Magnolias at Dusk
Motion and movement, arrangement in forms,
twisting bodies as personalities, pods of petals are posed.
In shadow in the woods, at twilight are some, seeking day’s filtered light, stolen moments are those
visions of loveliness, as intricate in beauty as a female form, displaying her body in any repose.
Enjoyed for their features, delicate limbs hold on to life’s natural gifts in explicable color foretold.
As though a sensuous message for us to behold.
A flower, a love, do these woods hold.
Expressive, almost speaking, pursed lips, demur, in silent reverence observed,
are barely open.
For as each a brief life is given, to all as well taken.
Ever still beauty remains, an impression never forgotten.
A persona, a figure, with a fingerprint all her own, an embodiment in petals whose portraiture’s displayed.
Copyright Marcia Holmes 2006
Although art is intended for the express enjoyment and interpretation of the viewer, I feel in some cases compelled to share the circumstances and/or inspiration that prevailed upon me to put pen to paper in poetry, as well as paint to palette in creation of both. Such an intense passion for a subject or a moment in time was also a revelation to me of a much deeper connection, as existed over time in preparation to paint these beautiful flowers.
January 2006: The first occasion was the coincidental timing of an art show for me at Brunner Gallery in Baton Rouge, La., and the discovery of my Mother’s illness. I was so happy to have completed a body of work for the show, yet terribly disturbed to find Mother had a large growth that appeared to be malignant. This particular weekend my daughter and I went straight from my art reception to break the news to Mom. My daughter knew how difficult it would be, so she stepped outside with my camera to take photos that late afternoon of the gorgeous Japanese magnolias, while I spoke to my Mother. My daughter was able to capture the essence of these flowers with her knack for composition and experimentation with photography on this grayed evening. These photos, my desire to paint and the impending struggle for life we all were experiencing was the beginning.
March 2006: In the studio I had pulled several pieces of art I admired; one was Johanna Harmon’s Eternal from a Southwest Art Ad of April 2005. While absorbing these images I recorded the vision I had of placement of a tulip as a portrait and noticed they show sameness as in the casual, naturally posed body of a woman—expressive. Immediately, the descriptions flowed to paper in an attempt to capture the resemblances of flowers to woman’s form and, to my surprise, I realized my innermost transformation was to the image of my mother, a very special individual, a bright character with a brief life that may be taken, but an impression never forgotten.
See the feature on Marcia Holmes in the October issue of The Pastel Journal.