By way of introduction…

I met Judy Crosby a while back when she was working as a camp director for the Da Vinci Experience and running an art gallery out of her office space in Falmouth, Maine. Judy exhibited some of my collages and other artwork in her gallery and even purchased a small collage I had just completed for her own collection. And now I am delighted to share with you her story, “A Family History in Fine China” along with Judy’s paintings created during the social isolation of the pandemic.

Judy Crosby’s Foremothers Story

Here is what Judy Crosby wrote to me:

Hi Robin,

Your Stories of Foremothers Project struck a chord with me because for the past two years I have been painting objects that have been handed down through the women in my family. When my great grandmother immigrated to this country, she brought her most treasured possessions in a trunk filled with her family’s blue and white china.

Objects of Memory: Passed Down Through Five Generations

They would be passed down to the oldest daughter for five generations. These objects are important because they represent the memories of family gathered around holiday tables and the conversations that happened in kitchens afterwards as they were carefully hand washed and dried. I painted a small picture of one of the teacups. Friends told me it made them think of their grandmothers. I then painted my great grandmother Lee’s china cabinet.

Judy Crosby, Nana Lee’s China Cabinet, painting

Painting through the Social Isolation of the Pandemic

During social isolation of the pandemic, family has been what wards off loneliness. I painted My Mother’s China Cabinet in March at the beginning of the pandemic’s “Stay at Home” orders while caring for my ninety-one-year-old father in his home. The empty chair in the painting stands in for my mother who is no longer with us.

Judy Crosby, My Mother’s China Cabinet, a family history painting

My Daughter’s China Cabinet

My daughter, Karen lives in Massachusetts. Because of quarantine requirements, I could not paint Karen’s China Cabinet in person. Here in Maine, I was able to paint it from a photograph she sent which also captured her reflection in the glass door.

Judy Crosby, My Daughter Karen’s China Cabinet, painting

A History of Fine China in Collage

I then created “History of Fine China”, a family tree collage, which made visual the connections that will always exist between daughters and foremothers. Even in a pandemic, we are not alone.

Judy Crosby, A History in Fine China, painting and collage

Robin’s Response to Judy Crosby

Hi Judy,
I received your Foremothers story–“A Foremothers Story in Fine China”– via my website and now these wonderful images! I am moved by all that you shared. Thank you for granting me permission to share your story and artwork on my blog. Each of the china cabinets you painted has a personality and a presence, perhaps revealing something about the person who owned it. And the pink blossoms of spring in your collage A Family History in Fine China express how the cycle of life is always being renewed. Again, thank you so much for sharing!