Artist Statement

Paintings in the Fireside Room this month are by member Rev. Peggy Thompson.

There is a lot of news these days about what is wrong with the world. It is enough to take one’s breath away, to rob a soul of hope. I get really tired of the constant negative drilling into my skull. In these portraits of women I wanted to fill my mind with words and images that give healing and hope for the future.

My mind went back to the memories I have of my mother, aunts and two grandmothers who, in spite of great obstacles, succeeded in giving my cousins and I a sense that life was good. For example, I still remember the smell of my grandmother’s homemade bread. She knew how to love unconditionally. She combined her love of God with her love of family and love of cooking. The three were inseparable to her.

As an adult I have sought out strong women from all walks of life. I painted their portraits to honor them and to teach younger women and others that strength does not necessarily mean might, competition and brawn.

The strength I am speaking about can be as gentle as a baby’s breath. It can be as quiet as the deep listening skills of a mom hearing out her teenage daughter. It ca be as patient as growing a garden. It can be as wise as an elder telling stories of being raised in a log cabin in the wilderness of the North Woods of Minnesota. It can be the courage it takes to face tremendous childhood pain or abuse and overcome it. It can be the sensitivity it takes to make a beautiful piece of art or to write a fine poem. It can be the courage it takes to face one’s forthcoming death at the age of thirty-three.

Strength like this comes unannounced, often times unappreciated or even invisible by the standards of our fast-paced culture that is so quick to judge by fame and fortune. But none of that exterior glitter really matters. What matters is that we travel the journeys of our lives with love, compassion, courage and integrity. As theologian Reinhold Niebuhr states, “We love each other into becoming.” That is what matters in the end.