Monday, October 15, 2012

Missing Holly

Missing Holly. Beaded words: I turned my back on a friend in need; She committed suicide; Now I tell everyone. Stitched words: I love you. Xylene photo transfer on tea-stained muslin. Hand embroidered and beaded. Unframed: 25" x 19"; Framed 31" x 25".  Click on image to enlarge.

Anastasia Chernoff is one of the sweetest women I know. She's an openly loving person and really does say "I love you" almost in place of a normal "good-bye" phrase. I just thought this was part of her nature until I asked her to take a look at my series. I knew Anastasia lives an interesting life and thought she'd be just the sort of person willing to share an important decision. I had no idea what that decision would be until I got her email answer. This portrait is the result.

At seventeen Anastasia and Holly, who was still sixteen, were honor students, members of several school groups, and the sort of best friends that meant every weekend was a "sleep over". Then, Holly got caught cheating on a pop quiz. Her world started to crumble away. She was definitely going to be kicked out of National Honor Society, lose her place as Valedictorian, and kicked off the cheerleading squad where she’d been captain. Her friends distanced themselves from her.... including Anastasia, her very best friend. Pills and a fast car ended her life.... and shock set in for those she left behind.

This portrait was going to read: "At seventeen I turned my back on a friend..." but I ran out of "e"s and had no numbers. Then I thought about it...long and hard. Why does the age really matter? This isn't a situation that really has anything to do with teenage years and peer pressure. How many of us have hung up the telephone on an unruly child calling with a flimsy excuse about breaking curfew? How many of us have said something sarcastic to a co-worker who isn't pulling his share at the office? How many of have ignored someone's needy request for attention? Most of the time, "tomorrow" comes; better words can be spoken; nicer things can be said; understanding and a solution can be found...but not all the time. Anastasia knows this.

Anastasia knows that none of us can perfectly anticipate what "tomorrow" might bring. She knows that every day might be the last one for someone close. She is determined to say what is really important.... even if saying it makes the other person "a little uncomfortable".... because it just might be the last time, the final "good-bye", the final "I love you!".

Anastasia is a talented artist with a gallery space in the Free-Times foyer call Anastasia and Friends. (The Free-Times is Columbia’s weekly, free news publication.)  Each portrait is shared with the person who posed before it is shared with others. Anastasia added the following, important sentences: I think about her (Holly) all the time and the lessons she gave me. More than anything, people need to love and feel love. The expression, "Love conquers all," couldn't be any truer. It does. It gets us through the toughest of times. There's never a bad time to tell someone you love them. It's, always, the right time to say those three words.

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