Spotlight: Swimming with My Eyes Open by Donna Steiner
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.