Into the Wordless

My mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness in October of 2005.  My three sisters and I spent the next year caring for her, going through one hospitalization or health crisis after another, and cherishing each additional day we were granted with her. 

During that year, I was also doing my best to complete work for a solo painting show at a gallery in the Twin Cities. 

This painting, “Into the Wordless” was one that I worked on throughout that year.  It is a very large piece, and it gave me a tremendous amount of trouble, as I painted over and over, trying to discover a mix of color texture and forms that would convey anything. It just felt empty to me.

When my mother died, she lifted her head and hand to something that was not in the room with the rest of us, and then was gone. Later, when I was working on this painting, the gold called to me and demanded its place on the panel, and I felt it was complete. 

The first line from one of my favorite poems by Walt Whitman is:

“This is thy hour Oh Soul, thy free flight into the wordless”

I didn’t realize until later, when it was dry and I was able to hang it on the wall that the gold rose up just as my mother had done, and that I had painted her soul’s free flight...

K. Daphnae Koop