Your Weekly Inspiration: Post 3 of 14
About the Author: Debbie Taylor-Kerman is a Scottish artist living and working in New York City. She came as a textile designer in 1991 to work in a design studio in the garment district “for two years”, & today, over twenty years later she’s fully rooted here with her New Yorker husband Elliott & their two scrumptious boys, Eli and Jules.
A few years ago, my Mom passed away. Even though I live in New York City and she in Scotland, we spoke almost every other day and I loved her deeply. After she passed, I walked around for at least a year with such a devastated broken heart, that some days I felt I couldn’t breathe. Painting in my studio was a huge challenge, as a lot of my artwork is whimsical, happy art, and I often felt just way too sad to pick up a brush.
Just before my Mom passed, my husband Elliott and I had bought and gut renovated an old townhouse in Harlem. Renovating and decorating houses was my Mom’s passion. She had grown up incredibly poor in the slums of Glasgow, and she had a unique gift of making something out of nothing. Even though we had many hard times growing up, our house was always beautiful.
Being that our new townhouse was so much bigger than our last apartment, there was much that needed to be done to fill it and make it feel like home. So on the days when I just couldn’t face painting, I channeled my Mom, and made pillows for my living room out of old sweaters she had given me. I made curtains from my fabric lines and recycled many found and current objects we had into new ones. Doing this was the time when I felt closest to my Mom and creatively alive. Admittedly, I didn’t paint much in that year after she died. It was scary taking so much time away from painting, especially in the midst of a recession, but I had such deep faith that my Mom was looking after me and that our family would be provided for. In retrospect, I know that my creativity for painting was hard at work, like the caterpillar in the cocoon, waiting to burst out when the time is right. I truly believe that by allowing that time to heal and grieve in the way I needed, I now feel more vital and creative than I have ever felt.
We knew my Mom was dying for about 5 months, and during those months, I was blessed to be able to spend some incredible, precious time with her. In one of our many discussions, she told me that one of her favorite moments in her life was when she and I took the ride on the “Maid of the Mist” boat under Niagara Falls. After she passed, I hunted in my old box of photos and found this treasured picture taken by me of the two of us with our mist filled grinning faces glowing with joy. Elliott made a large print of it for me, and it hangs over my desk in my studio to welcome me to work every day, and I know that she is looking over me and that her spirit and creativity lives within me every day.