As this year comes to a close and everyone celebrates this holiday season we wanted to share with you all the last MOM Art Annex Resident of 2021 . Donna Lewis is an accomplished artist and educator who values the sacredness of mother earth, and has found it to be a source of constant comfort throughout her life. It is from her experiences with nature, and her own experiences as a mother and caregiver, that she expresses her creative spirit through art.
Throughout her residency with us this December, we hope you will be able to see the beauty of the world through her art, and come to appreciate the lasting connections we make with the world around us that shape who we all come into being with each new phase of life. Continue reading to personally hear from Donna to learn more about her art, her career, and life.
I turned 65 this year. With that change, I retired from my job of twenty-five years as an educator. After teaching art and architecture to high school students, I am now learning to let go of the frenetic pace, the relentless work-cycle, and focus on my own desires and passions.
I am learning to release my creative, art-making self in order to heal and bring forth a new chapter in my life. But, it is not always easy.
Being committed to the process of creativity means living in synchronicity. There is a constant need to balance movement with downtime, exercise with rest, and the mundane with the magnificent. I realize the importance of allowing myself the freedom to let my mind and heart wander, as I slowly learn to enjoy, and feel deserving, of what is to come.
I search for clarity about some major life-decisions, taking the time to swim, to walk, to breathe, and to use the materials at hand to better nurture ideas and self-reflection.
Nature and trees are important to me. They have supported me, cleansed me, and calmed me throughout these many years. A walk in the park or alongside the river has always allowed for invaluable insight and consolation to arise, even in the most difficult times. Even in the midst of a busy teaching schedule, or personal challenges, a weekend in nature, or a summer trip to the sea, has inspired me and lifted me in inexplicable ways.
But, fleeing the city isn’t always necessary. Some of my best ideas have arisen during my treks through New York. I have been a resident of Manhattan for four decades and experienced the concrete jungle as a place with pockets of nature to discover, even amidst the hustle and bustle. Luckily, I considered Washington Square Park to be my backyard, the West Side Highway my exercise spot, and the playgrounds as a great source of recreation for my children.
Public spaces are significant and all-important to life in the city. They allow families and individuals to connect with each other to embrace places that improve our sense of wellbeing, while calming our senses, and relaxing our minds.
Manhattan is a place with rivers on either side. Urban planners have come to realize the importance of these natural assets. Parks, green spaces, and piers with plantings have become the new vision for the city, and I am grateful for that.
Much in the same way that nature connects us to our mother, the earth— my paintings connect me with my soul’s calling. We are intertwined like trees, like rivers, like oceans, and like the air we breathe. The entwinement expands outward in my heart, through my family of origin and my own family of procreation.
I am appreciating the perennial nature of mothering. It never stops. Unlike the retirement I am taking from school, my adult children and I continue to develop our inextricable bond. As I care for my aging mother, Leila (now 88) with my four sisters, I watch the changing seasons, the expanding experiences, and the cycle of life: being a child, having a child, and caring for others’ children, and mothers has enlightened my existence, and influenced my artistic practice.
‘The Trees’, featured here in this exhibit, are a window into all of these things and hopefully reflect the whimsy, terror, and acceptance of the changes that are all around us, all the time. We cannot separate ourselves from that which we are. So, I hope to continue to find the courage and fortitude for this next phase of the journey, and I hope to do it with creative gusto, a little more in balance, perhaps at a slightly more relaxed pace.
We here at MOM are so grateful to have Donna as our newest resident artist and are so grateful for her fantastic contribution to M.O.M.’s archives as she gives us glimpses into her work, her creative process, and unique perspective. Also be sure to follow us on Instagram for updates as well as more of her thoughts on our residency while she stays this December! Happy Holidays Everyone!
If you are interested in applying for a guest residency here at MOM, please go to our website HERE: https://bit.ly/3uRgugm to find out more. BE SURE TO HURRY! Spots have been filling FAST! We hope that future tours of the space will be available soon, but they are by appointment only in Artist Enclave Historic Kenwood: “where art lives.”