by Janice Wilson Stridick
[Editor's Note: In successive weeks, we will be offering six poems and eight paintings from Janice Wilson Stridick's UNFIN DOT, a glimpse from a manuscript titled Unfinished Daughter. This is piece 4 of 6. Click on the image to view it full size.]
Compressed forms appeal to my inner perfectionist, who resists being finished by others, and, unavoidably, finds pronouncing anything finished distasteful at best. Unfinished pieces refer to, rather than encapsulate, their subject.
The following poems were originally written long, as journal entries and lists after I found these paintings in my mother’s studio, and remembered, or failed to remember, sitting for them. She had boxed each portrait, except one. From it, she cut and discarded most of me except my ear, then framed the remaining basket of flowers as a still life.
The first serious collaborative project I recall doing with my mother was aimed at compression. We went on a diet when I was 11 years old. Together. We ate awful, insipid excuses for food and consumed gallons of artificially sweetened soft drinks. She drank ten cups of black coffee a day. Did we compress? I doubt it. Did we digest? Not easily. Did we, later, re-inflate? You betcha.
Now, from the perspective of a woman who curates and makes art, years since breast cancer claimed my artist-mother, I see the beauty in these references to the woman I was becoming, and the ways she longed to project and protect me.
I revel in these leavings of my artist-mother, Alice Steer Wilson, who died at the peak of her painterly powers in 2001. Memory, image, journals and bits of dialogue suggest the ways we created and revised ourselves and our worlds.