|cover of the Adoption Constellation Magazine|
I was one of three featured adoptee artists in the latest issue of The Adoption Constellation Magazine. This magazine explores the diverse voices of the adoption triad and encourages an ongoing dialogue about topics related to the adoption experience.
Below I have shared my essay on how my own artwork has influenced my experience of being an adoptee. To find out more about this magazine, follow this link to their site: The Adoption Constellation Magazine
The Power of Art: Adoptee Artists
The Artist’s Path to Self: How does the adoption experience translate into art?
Three adoptee artists use art as a medium to gain a greater understanding of their adoptions and themselves.
“What did your face look like before your parents were born?” -Zen Koan
A few years ago I had a dream about my birth mother. I was walking through a crowded room and everyone was dressed in masquerade clothing and masks. As I meandered through the large hall, the back of a woman caught my attention and I immediately knew she was my mother. In the dream, I held my breath as I waited for her to turn around. She turned for only a moment, and I saw she had the face of the Mona Lisa. Her face then shifted into another face as she melted into the crowd. I ran after her, but could not find her again.
Thinking about the dream, I later realized that not knowing my mother may actually fuel my constant desire to create. Without knowing my mother’s face, I am free to create one for her, even imbuing her with the face of the Mona Lisa.
My adoptee and artist identities have often been inexplicably linked. My search for self parallels my path as an adoptee and an artist. I trace this search visually through the artistic process. My art draws from archetypal images, such as the Great Mother, Mother Nature, and from other mythological women, to help me form an image of my mother. The struggle to form an identity and likeness for my mother is mirrored in my painted depictions of floating figures and faceless apparitions.
Symbolically, I reclaim my lost mother through the artistic process, evoking her through dialogues with my paintings. Art has given me a way to meet my mother metaphorically on the page or on the canvas. Abstract landscapes evince terrain that I have traveled in my search for self, and for my mother. Shifting figures of women hover in limbo – waiting to be born or to move on to the next stage of life.
Those who know their biological family trees are assigned to a specific branch on the tree. Perhaps not knowing my family tree has freed me to paint my own family trees – in various colors, shapes, types, and settings.
As an art therapist, I often tell my clients to “focus on the process more than the finished product.” When I think about my constantly evolving search for self and for my mother, I often remind myself of this philosophy and how it can apply to all of life as well. Perhaps it has never been about finding myself, but about the act of creating myself in each moment.