Spotlight: Swimming with My Eyes Open by Donna Steiner

Artist Statement

In the last year, both my mother and father died. They were gone within 42 days of each other, one to a stroke, one to heart failure. These paintings, part of a much larger collection, were attempts to convey feelings of being submerged, of being unable to put words to experience, being unable to surface. A writer by profession, I turned to art to make sense of what seemed senseless. The only contentment I found came from drenching clayboard with water and manipulating ink on the wet surface. Many of the images had marine-like imagery, and some seemed ghostly or ethereal. Some paintings are very layered, and some are almost translucent; the medium corresponded to my navigation of the complex months following these losses. The materials used – specifically ink and water– were significant. My parents were lifetime letter-writers, and I spent years deciphering the marks they left, in ink, on paper. They both rest in the Atlantic Ocean, the home of my earliest memories. It is fitting, I think, that I use water and saturated color to commemorate them.

Donna SteinerDonna Steiner’s essays and poetry have been published in literary journals including Fourth Genre, The Bellingham Review, The Sun, Full Grown People and The Manifest Station. She teaches literary citizenship and creative writing at the State University of New York in Oswego. A chapbook of five essays, Elements, was released by Sweet Publications. These are her first paintings to be shown.