Aphasia Island-




“Aphasia is an impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write. Aphasia is always due to injury to the brain-most commonly from a stroke, particularly in older individuals. But brain injuries resulting in aphasia may also arise from head trauma, from brain tumors, or from infections.”


Dealing with Aphasia as a diagnosis, as a lifestyle, or as a defining point is not for the faint of heart. Our family has lived in Stroke World and on Aphasia Island for 14 years. Besides the professionals – the fantastic speech pathologists and retired speech paths and friends who pitched in when insurance ran out (and who are still there,) there is a strong and hearty group of people who join us at our kitchen table to break bread and enjoy some wine, who have been part of this journey. And being surrounded by educators and being one myself, I thought that I could tell in a visual way, something about Aphasia and some of the folks on Aphasia Island.


I thought that I might do this by portraiture – oil paintings of the person who drew the short straw and has Aphasia. I thought I’d ask our friends Mari and her husband Wes to participate – or the little 3 year old busy boy and his folks but I just couldn’t (at least yet.)Then I thought about the whole support group – then I thought better – I’m not geared to do portrait painting that are remotely photographic or closely representational. So – instead nothing happened. It all seemed great in my head but not on paper. The visual images are elusive. The explanation of Aphasia is scientific but the Aphasia experience is deeply personal.


So, gripped by a feeling which is how most of my work starts, I started to draw. Draw big. Draw from blurry memories and old photos of Bob and Erin. Draw from significant memories of walking the portable Chartres labyrinth in my stocking feet – and thinking how it is sort of like a brain with all of the folds. Remembering how we fell apart and came together and kept on going. Remembering how Bob’s dad and I planted 300 daffodil bulbs that fall because we knew something had to spring from all this tumult.


This is just the beginning of the story – I think I have to start with the story I know best and then maybe help others make their own story. It isn’t about the skill, or the technical wizardry of art; it is the making that matters.



– “Sentries”

Unnamed-Crow2016web copy

February – the gray month. The month of love. The month of monumental loss. A month of endurance until the spring comes.

This image has been unfinished for at least 4 years. It is reductive so there isn’t an undo button if you screw up. It began as a lino cut – and I printed it with too dark. I was in a hurry, anxious to finish, almost there – almost – and the reality hit – too, too dark a value for the image to make any sense.

Image redone – printing along, aware of the value of my inks – about half way through the edition and the layers of ink – and Bitchzilla – (the press) decided to slip. It is a Dickerson style of press. Although all of my press experience helped, it didn’t set things right and the edition died.

The printed image laid fallow – next to its stillborn twin (the one where the press slipped) in the flat file.

2 Winters came and went.

I returned. I do have the tenacity of a Terrier. This time on wood. This time on my press (Little John). This time, with time. With a resolve to honor a memory. After all, that’s a large part of the image; the memory of that which I lost, misplaced, was taken or abandoned, cared for by the crows.

So, the memories are protected by those sentries, the crows: the string “too short to save”, the missing mending, the lost and broken rosary, the gear wheel that kept things going.

And it is done and the print has been named, Sentries.

Tomorrow it heads to a national exhibit of work focusing on Fairy Tales –


 Fairy Tales, Fables and Myths,

March 24 – April 16, 2016

At The Arts Council Fayetteville/Cumberland County

Fayetteville, North Carolina