AN ARTIST’S HEALING PATH.
Stephanie Calvert’s Shame to Pride exhibit opening at Rabbithole Gallery, New York.
After an accident in 2013, which left Stephanie Calvert’s mother handicapped and in need of assistance, Stephanie realized she’d never really dealt with the lingering shame and anger associated with her childhood. She was sitting on a couch next to me, telling me her story, tears running down her cheeks. It was that magnetizing moment of honest sharing that only happens when you meet your kind. We knew right away that we had a path to walk together.
Since that day, I have been privileged to closely watch this amazing art project grow from a painful experience into a magnificent art project called Shame to Pride. It’s opening tonight and I’m going to see Stephanie for the first time since Burning Man and she just had an article about her show published in the NY Times.
It’s my first night stepping out since my return from California and Brooklyn air is warm and inciting.
After a few failed attempts at finding the door to Rabbithole Gallery, we see our crowd and join the opening below the surface of Dumbo’s signature cobblestones. As I am making my way through a beautiful crowd of familiar and new faces inside the gallery, I can’t help but stop and snap a detail shot of almost every piece with my iPhone. There’s so much life in every component of every piece in Stephanie’s work. Here they are, moment’s of another person’s life, their thoughts, intentions, baked into the crust of dust on these cans, bottle caps, pills, pieces of wood, that these pieces are made of. Pieced together. Like links of a long memory. It makes you want to go back to some pieces and look again.
Stephanie’s story that led her here is not simple. When she was 11, her family moved to an isolated schoolhouse in Thatcher, Colo., that they had purchased to renovate and fix up. But the project never took off. Growing up in an old school building with no running water or heat, left Stephanie watching her parents’ dreams wither away along with the property. Stephanie’s also was deeply ashamed of her mother’s hoarding habit. Years of collecting and holding onto things, accumulated layers upon layers of papers stacked up high, and rooms after rooms filled with objects, memories stashed away and issues not dealt with, throughout the entire area of the building.
When Stephanie went back home to take care of her mother after the accident, she found herself faced with difficult feelings again and this time she decided it was time to start the healing process. And she was going to use art as her therapy. Stephanie’s mother’s accident caused severe brain damage and she sometimes confuses the present with memories or dreams. “Her current mental state is very similar to the physical state of things in Thatcher” says Stephanie in her interview for the NY Times.
By turning what her mother had hoarded into what she felt passionate about- art, and through a lot of work, Stephanie managed to heal herself and find new balance.
“In a lot of ways this project is completing a circle for me,” she says in her interview. “It’s returning to this home, it’s using these materials that she intended for art.” And, she ads, “now I’m taking care of my mother in the way that she used to take care of me.”- (http://nytimes.com)
“When I tell her that I’m out there making art, she says that she thinks that’s wonderful.”
Stephanie also hopes that “Shame to Pride” will serve of help to others, who might be dealing with hoarding issues. Several people have already come forward to Stephanie thanking her for the project because it helped them come to terms with their own or a family member’s hoarding.
When art is therapeutic, it comes alive.
Go see the show- HERE are the details!