FLNC - Variant R2340Q

Painting allows me to reflect and heal. My son, Wesley was born with a congenital heart defect, and the past two years have been spent fighting for his life—first with a succession of four open heart surgeries and finally with a heart transplant in May 2015.

At the root of Wesley’s illness was a single genetic irregularity—a variation in the gene FLNC resulting in a cardiac myopathy condition that caused thickening of the heart walls and defective formation of the coronary artery and aortic arch.

This body of work takes its name from this genetic variation, FLNC – Variant R2340Q, and represents Wesley’s journey in a series of seven pieces. The paintings that form the middle movement of the series were painted over older works; the layers were carved and stripped away through a variety of methods—a manifestation of the wrenching, pendulous swing between hope and despair. In contrast, the paintings that begin and end the series are intentionally smooth in texture, depicting times when it was easier to regulate my emotions, despite the intensity with which I felt them.

These paintings represent both my darkest times and moments when I felt profound connection with the universe. While contemplating these abstract visions, I invite the viewer to meditate on these questions: How do we maintain hope in the face of fragility and death? How can we turn trauma into a conduit for art, expression, and identity? How can something so small, the slightest variation, change our world completely?

Habitat

Nature is my sanctuary. The natural world and all its creatures have come to me in my dreams and in waking for as long as I can remember. I currently reside on a tidal pond, next to a creek that bends and twists through marsh banks into the brush, a short distance from the woods and ocean. Migratory birds delight in the crabapple tree, sea roses, lavender, day lilies and shasta daisies. Turns dive at high tide, great blue herons skulk at low tide, deer wander out in to the long marsh grass, coyotes prowl, bears lumber across the muddy pond bottom, stoats race about the marshy banks and red wing black birds perch on the cattails and reeds. The paintings in this series are transformations of the natural forms I encounter in my habitat into abstract visions. In this series as I ask the viewer to consider a time when humans were more part of the natural world? How does nature nourish one’s mind, body and soul? How does nature shape one’s aesthetic?