Mary L.

Committee of One

Photo of me with my Committee of One (Dad circa 1980)

Photo of me with my Committee of One (Dad circa 1980)

I have a committee of one.

For my first 25 years that one was my Dad.

Retired shop teacher and coach

I was his only daughter, after 4 sons, when he was 53.

We were a matched pair. 

We were spent sunny Saturdays at auctions, and rainy Sundays reading books. 

We picked huckleberries in the swamp

And planted the garden. 

He set the rules and I followed them. 

There was a proper way to trim a pony’s hoof.

Weeds were best extracted after a good rain (in order to pull the roots up too).

And a girl needs to know how to tape a drywall seam and fix a leak faucet. 

He understood the connection between idle hands and the devil. 

And so, he encouraged my creativity.

He would drive me to the fabric store and wait patiently.

He never said no to me when I wanted to build or make or experiment.

He had an eye for design. 

He built furniture and also built his first house.

He knew I had a knack for art, particularly working with textiles and wool,

But didn’t see how it could ever translate into a ‘real’ paycheck. 

He suggested that I become a chemist or a nurse (he had women friends in both professions)

And he wanted me to be an independent single woman, not dependent on a man. He was a progressive long before it was popular. 

Nowadays Dad has been gone for more than two decades. 

I am older than he was when I was born.

But I still have a committee of one. 

Now the committee of one is me. 

Surprisingly I don’t give much thought to what others think about my art. (Perhaps that was Dad's self-empowerment gift to me.)

But instead I go through periods were I ask myself, “What use is this?” or “Why are you making another of those?” or “Why did I waste my time trying to salvage that piece of junk?”

I have a love of using cast off ephemera and scraps because of Dad’s ‘make do’ attitude, but sometimes I feel I need to break those bonds. 

This was referred to by an aquaintance as "The Really Sh---y Works in Three".  I just laughed and kept working.

This was referred to by an aquaintance as "The Really Sh---y Works in Three". 

I just laughed and kept working.

Experts say, "Recognition of the problem is half the battle."

And perhaps that is true. 

I think I need to be easier on myself. 

I know these things to be true:

  • I make art to please myself. 
  • I make art as personal therapy. 
  • I am happy when my hands are busy.  
  • Experimentation is just that. It doesn’t have to yield a product.
  • I need to continue working my day job at least for the time being (and no I didn’t become a chemist or a nurse like he suggested, LOL),
  • Finding my artistic voice will take time. The good news is: I am on the road!