Monday, March 24, 2014

Redemption Stories Series with Guest Artist Bridgette Guerzon Mills

Redemption Stories Monday: For the next ten Monday's join me in welcoming 10 guest artists as they share a story of redemption from their own life or work. These stories may be a broad overview or observation, or they may be very specific, deep and personal. The post may be very short or very lengthy. I have left the specifics up to each of the ten. View images of their work as you read their words, and bios. Be sure to check out the links each one will provide to learn even more about them. 

As I write each week's introduction, I'm discovering that many of the artists I have invited to join the three series currently running on my blog are people I have known since very early on in my own career. Bridgette is one of those artists. I used to faithfully read each one of her blog posts and drool over the work she posted there. I was ecstatic to find that she lived in the city and even more ecstatic when she came to meet me at a show where I was vending. Since that time, our paths have continued to cross and to my delight she also became one of the instructors at EncaustiCamp the first year I taught there. (She has a chapter in the upcoming book about the camp!). Read on to hear one of Bridgette's childhood memories. . .
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"Where it Begins" Encaustic Collage by Bridgette Guerzon Mills
Boom, boom! Thunder shook our home and I covered my ears with my 6 year old hands.A big crack split and lit up the sky. Then darkness. I screamed. My older sister put her hand on me and asked, “What happened?”“I don’t know,” I answered, trying not to cry. “But the lights went out. I’m scared.”“Don’t be scared,” she replied. “Darkness isn’t scary. You just need to know where you are. I’ll take care of you.”

“But I can’t see!”

“Don’t worry. I’ll be your eyes.” 

And with that my blind sister took my hand and led me confidently through our shared bedroom, through the hallway, and to the top of the stairs. I felt her other arm move ahead and grab the railing. She said to me, “Hold on to my hand. Now, hold on to the railing with your other hand. Ok? We’re going to go down the stairs now. There are 15 steps, let’s count together. Ready? One. Two. Three...”

We made our way down the stairs, then through the living room, down another hallway and then into the pantry. The whole time my sister spoke softly but confidently, explaining where we were and to “just follow her.” We finally stopped in front of the drawer that held the flashlights. Her hand reached out and felt around until she found what she was looking for. “Here, here are the flashlights.” She took the flashlight in her hand and handed it to me. I fumbled in the darkness to find the button. And just with the push of the button, my world was mine again and I shone the light up and into my sister’s smiling face. She reached out and patted my head.


"Moirai" Encaustic painting by Bridgette Guerzon Mills
When Crystal invited me to write about redemption, I was honored and said “of course!” But when I sat down to write, no words came. Well, that’s not entirely true. I have all sorts of personal stories of past tragedy and crisis and from each of those, lessons that I’ve learned about rising up again and persevering. However, I kept coming back to the story of my sister who had lost her sight before I was born. Her story, her hardships. But they were also mine because our childhood homes are like cocoons; our edges overlap and our stories feed into each other.

Because of her condition, I grew up understanding death and the fragility of life at a very early age. We were told that she was an angel that God had sent down for us to take care of and that He would be sending back for at any moment. I didn’t feel fearful about that, but rather I learned that life is a precious gift. It is a gift that is painful and sad often,but at the same time it is a gift that is filled with beauty and joy and above all, compassion. My sister taught me to see all the varied hues and shades. She taught me to feel the wondrous textures of everyday objects, the warmth of the sun, and that so much can be learned through one’s fingertips. She taught me the power in the simple actof being present and holding one’s hand. 

I believe that she was an angel sent down to take care of my family. She taught us and guided us. In the studio, she still guides me. As her baby sister, I was often her eyes, explaining the world to her. 

She taught me to see.


"Gathered and Pieced Together" Encaustic Collage by Bridgette Guerzon Mills
Bridgette Guerzon Mills is a mixed media artist whose work primarily focuses on paintings, but at times delves into book art. Her work incorporates a variety of materials including photography, oil paint, acrylic paint and encaustic (wax-based pigments). Her artwork, artist books, and journals have been published in magazines and books and her work has been collected in the United States and internationally. She has exhibited nationally and abroad. She currently resides outside of Baltimore in Maryland with her husband, two children, and dog.

Her work can be seen online at www.guerzonmills.com and www.bgmartjournal.blogspot.com.


15 comments:

  1. What a special story Bridgette. Filled with so much love and wisdom. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. I wholeheartedly agree Seth - a very special story full of so much love!
      Thanks for stopping by today!

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  2. oh bridgette, this is a wonderful sharing! how amazing that someone who couldn't see taught you to look....i admire you so much!!

    jeanne handley mclaughlin

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    1. You are so right, it is wonderful! Thanks for stopping by to read and leave your comment today Jeanne!

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    2. thank you Jeane!

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  3. Your writing is brilliant with depth & softness. Life IS precious and your work transfers that thinking...that's exactly why I'm drawn to it.

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    1. There is a depth in Bridgettes work that speaks to my soul. I think you might have nailed it with your observation Leah. Thanks for stopping to read and comment today!

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  4. Anonymous6:33 PM

    Your story was full of kindness and courage. The strength and confidence of your sister - being blind and at the same time being your eyes! I so appreciate the irony that we can only learn to see from someone who is blind, that challenges are only moved through not overcome, and that we have so much to learn from the imperfect. Thank you for sharing!
    Dawn C.

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    1. It is a beautiful irony. Thanks so much for stopping to comment!

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  5. What an incredible story of kindness, courage, strength, love. Thank you Bridgette for sharing your story.

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    1. I love the way that Bridgette shares the love for her sister to those of us who didn't know her through the telling of her story. Thanks for stopping to comment today Jennifer!

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  6. Chill run up & down as I read your story of blessing through tragedy. What a gift!

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    1. I agree -such a gift! Thanks for stopping by today Wen!

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  7. what.a Lôvély, powerful story! I love the kindness that shines through, and the wisdom of Bridgette's parents showed/taught, honoring their older daughter's gifts!
    My mom had polio at 9, so used crutches into her mif 80s, and was also BléSSéD with parents who encouraged her strengths! I learned a lot from her, not the least to play three hand we're dealt, and play it well.

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    1. Dia, thank you so much for your words. My dad also had polio when he was a child and lived with the consequences of it. He faced a lot of taunting because of it as a child but he taught us to never let anything stop us from pursuing our dreams as well as to have compassion for people who may be "different". Thank you for sharing.

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