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. https://davinciexperience.com/judy-crosby-camp-director/ 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Robin’s Response to Judy Crosby
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!
Judy, these objects of memory are so beautifully painted and resonate beyond your family connections. By honoring them with portraits it truly elevates their status. Your cup painting also struck a chord in me as a while back I did some portraits of my mother’s favorite Limoge tea cup and gifted them to my sisters. That cup held memories of moments shared and even memories that were awoken for all of us, each different but each very powerful. I am sure your cup painting does the same for your family members too. Thanks for posting and sharing.
Dear Chake, I’m so glad to hear that the teacup painting resonated with you. Your painting of your mother’s Limoge teacup was such a wonderful gift for your sisters. It shows how objects remind us of our family connections. Judy
Chake and Judy, I once saw a sign in a window at Cabot Mill in Brunswick that read, “A thing is just a thing until its story is told.” To me, this quote speaks to the way these objects express our feelings of gratitude and connection to our foremothers.
I love that quote and it certainly is reflected in all the foremother stories that have so generously been shared. From them comes inspiration to share our family stories so they will be cherished living memories for our children and for generations to come. Thank you!
Judy – your great grandmother would be so proud and honored by these extraordinary images and beautiful story. I’m so inspired!