Cornelia Margarete Peckart
Marlies is a personal response to the Art of Creation research study and my role as the lead artist educator.
Marlies is a large and colourful canvas that holds many stories. The piece started with a continuous charcoal line on a white canvas. This referenced the seven groups of women involved in the research study. The last element on the canvas was the Ivy plant. It united the figurative elements and signified the continued growth of humanity in the natural environment.
Layered between these two elements is a stream of conscious text. It narrates my involvement with the Art of Creation and some of my own pregnancy story. The text appears as a thread. The tread reminds me of my mom, who was a knitter extraordinaire. It links my story to an illustration of her as a young parent. Marlies became the central figure, holding the space in the chaos that surrounds her. She represents the calm in the storm. She represents the strength in uncertain times, and the deep love that continues even in her absence.
Marlies is a short chapter in the novel that is the Art of Creation.
The artwork grew in an organic manner. Each layer held a place for several weeks before the next layer was added. The enormous canvas itself was a gift from a neighbour who was making room in their house for their new baby, Enora. It held a lot of space in my tiny studio cottage.
My first action was to draw a continuous line as mobius strips. It represents the connectivity of participants in the seven Art of Creation art-based support groups. It was drawn with charcoal on the canvas. The continuous line was gestural and raw. It also reminded me of yarn and my mom. Marlies was a great knitter. I was ready to call the work complete at this point because I love gestural line. I knew the art was still a work in process though.
A few weeks passed and I decided to take the assignment literally. I began to tell the story of my involvement in the Art of Creation study through a stream of conscious text on the charcoal lines. The text narrates my involvement with the study and documents some of my own pregnancy story. Between the line I layered bright and abstract colour fields using chalk pastels as a reference to artwork we created with the participants as part of the study. The canvas no longer had an up or down. It was now less complete than when there was only a charcoal line on the canvas.
Living with and deciding on the orientation of the canvas led me to ground the artwork and draw a face in the upper middle of the canvas. A young and strong version of my mom appeared. The lower part of the canvas unexpectedly became a pregnant belly. The spaces glowed. Other faces were added beside the central figure. They represented the objectification and unsolicited advice that many of the women in the study had to sift through.
The need to protect, learn, listen, and sometimes reject unsolicited advice was a common thread in discussions. The hands also work to illustrate the tension but are also grounded by an Ivy plant which grows wildly. It also works to unify the many elements on the canvas.
Marlies is a great grandmother, an Oma, a mom. She is me, my siblings, and her grandchildren. She is the thread that connects, nourishes, and encourages me, even in her absence. Marlies illustrates my nine-month journey with the Art of Creation.
Marlies is my mother’s name. It is actually Maria Louise Elizabeth Stumpf Peckart, but everyone knew her as Marlies. Just weeks after starting working with the Art of Creation team, she died. It weighed heavily on me as I met and worked alongside the many pregnant women in the research study. The circle of life as a theme in my life was inescapable. Caring for my family and teaching women who were growing their own families helped me through a difficult time in my life.
Text on Marlies
I didn’t know what I was getting into when I signed up for the study.
The Art of Creation had been in my life once already.
Sara from the Art Gallery of Hamilton asked if I could help with logo concepts for this research study at McMaster University pre-pandemic.
My son Ben managed to put something together with me.
Ben was deep in work as a university student.
Don’t know how we managed to get it together.
It’s not what I do for a living, so it was a little stressful.
But it ended up being helpful as a starting point for the actual designers.
This action of starting with the artist is why I didn’t hesitate when Deb asked me to be a teacher for the research study a few years later.
It was another leap for me to learn how to teach concurrently with the research team led by the remarkable Jordan.
I was guided through and we all figured out the nuts and bolts of teaching and researching online and in person.
I came into the study with my own pregnancy story.
I am the mother of twin 22 year old boys.
I had experienced four pregnancy losses before becoming pregnant with Liam and Ben.
I was so deeply immersed in the world of infertility and stigma around my role in the losses.
I was, or felt solely responsible for the terminations.
My body was letting me down.
I felt broken and created artwork documenting/responding to all of the medical interventions.
Being a part of the Art of Creation groups has thrown me back into the emotional rollercoaster ride it is to be pregnant.
I learned that I am not solely responsible for all of my losses.
Not by a long shot!
My partner and my parents and my grandparents and what they ate and where they lived and and and so much more!
Through art I see how much support can be given when people share experiences either through conversation while distracted or/and by creation of works that allllways have a narrative. The fears and huge sense of the unknown carries through each of the groups.
There was a loss for one of the members of the research study this week.
It weighs heavy on us all.
We have also met a few happy and healthy babies.
Arlo, at five days old!
And that day Deb asked me to do an artwork in response to my participation in the study.
For weeks and weeks I thought about it.
I thought about making a comic strip.
Or a collage of all of my teaching demonstrations.
But truthfully, collage is fun, but not my favorite media.
Then, I was gifted this canvas.
And I kept thinking how helpful and supportive all of the women were.
How they valued the art classes for more than the making of art.
The support and shared experience had so much value!
And so I thought about how interconnected we had all become.
And how we all were sad when our sessions came to an end.
All the women become one woman somehow.
The möbius strip drawn seven times on the huge canvas, connected through a continuous line.
It carries my story and every story at the same time.
It will continue on through the next generation and the generation that follows it…
We need to share our stories and to listen and learn.