A Good Year For Hollyhocks

My next show opens in a few weeks and is at Christensen Center Art Gallery at Augsburg College (which is my Alma Mater).
The show shares it's name with my blog...it's kinda a mouth full, I've never been that great at naming things. Here is part of my show statement, a short story really, that may help me explain...I am an artist and not a writer, but I have really begun to enjoy the challenge of explaining in writing what it is I am attempting to communicate with my art. Feedback would definitely be appreciated.

Egg Basket Full of Hollyhock Dolls

The summer of my forth year was a very good year for hollyhocks. My Grandma Flo still talks about it, her pride and pleasure evident some 33 years later.

On a sunny day that same summer Grandma and I sat amongst the hollyhocks on an old and slightly tattered patchwork quilt. She pointed out individual squares and told me stories about the fabric...much of the quilt was made from the pretty cotton floral "feed cloth" that the ground seed corn had come in for the chickens, some were scraps from hand sewn christening or wedding dresses but my favorite was a small blue cat that my mother had embroidered as a little girl.

With the story of the blue embroidered kitten, Grandma Flo began to recount other things my mother had enjoyed at my age. I was the first grandchild, born when my grandparents were still young and excited about sharing the delight and whimsy of childhood.

"Lordy, lordy, I almost forgot all about hollyhock dolls!" Grandma Flo exclaimed.

Now, if you do not know what a hollyhock doll is, these directions from The Old Farmers Almanac may help you to visualize:

-Pick a nice bud and a lovely opened flower.
-Carefully peel away the sepals that enclose the bud.
-Stop when you reach the folded petals.
-Push the small stem of the opened flower (the skirt) into the base of the buds folded petals (the doll's head).

We actually used two toothpicks, one to hold the two pieces together and one for arms.

My mother joined us and soon we had dozens of eloquently dressed hollyhock ladies.

My mother has the strangest ability to bestow upon any inanimate object personality and life abundant (I would say, "at least in the eyes of a four year old", but to this day she can still make my heart ache for a singular sock, longing for its missing match.) She is a born storyteller and soon all of the hollyhock ladies had names and personal stories and I loved them each dearly. Realizing the calamity that would occur when my new friends wilted and died before my eyes, mother and grandmother gathered them all in a bright yellow egg basket and quickly composed a story about how we would need to take them to the pond in order for them to each complete their very special tasks.

When I picture the farm I still see it as I did that day on the procession to the pond: The fields and gardens lush and full, orderly flowers and fruit trees, baby calves and baby chicks, sheep, dogs, kittens, and everyone working hard and happily on gardens and in the kitchen, in the field, building a future, each of us filled with promise, hearts full of praise.

We reached the pond, spread the quilt by the shore and with the most solemn seriousness I placed each lady in the water, said my goodbyes, and pushed them forward to their destiny.


sara siverhus benson said...

Amy, loving your art. i wish i lived in the cities so i could go to a show!

Camilla Engman said...

wonderful piece of work, Amy.
I just woke up, it's morning here, so there was nothing in the way for your little story to travel right in to my heart :)