“Village.” What does this word mean to you? What images does it conjure up in your mind? Where does it take you?
A client came to me recently and asked me to paint “her village.” She has two friends whom she loves, and wanted to give them a gift. These friends and their children are her village.
I understood she meant “close friendships” from the start, but the more she shared with me, I realized I was in the presence of something sacred and rare. Three families who blended and blurred, who did everything together, from blackest sorrow to soaring celebration, and all the mundanities in between. All the connotations that the word “village” carries – all the closeness, the sharing, the desire that all are well and happy because their welfares are intertwined – all this was true in these friendships. They were truly a modern-day village. How could I capture all this?
I chose to paint one painting over three panels. Each panel emphasizes a different family, but the members of each family are not grouped together. This is not a set of family portraits. It’s a village portrait – a blended, braided, more-beautiful-together village portrait.