The Lilies How They Grow

These large-scale works on paper combine charcoal, pastel, and oil paint with a unique process of erasure, and invoke forces and life forms of the natural world as metaphors for human experiences of love, loss, grief, and transformation.

Since the sudden deaths of my twin brother and mother, I have come to see my life—all life—as wilderness. Perils, wonders, powers, and weaknesses all exist there. The Lilies How They Grow is an attempt to navigate the forces and features of this territory. It is an attempt to understand and accept an existence that is at once breathtakingly beautiful, unendurably painful, infinitely fragile, and prodigiously resilient. Created as prayers for a passageway out of all that holds us back, these pieces look towards hope and faith in our capacity to love, and for the possibility of a life aligned with presence, openness, and joy.

Together, these nine panels compose a vast, elemental landscape defined by rock and air, fire and ice, flesh and bone. Who are we? they ask. Who are we willing to be, to ourselves and to each other? What answers might we receive if we can be still enough to listen?

The title of these pieces comes largely from a dream I had a month after my twin brother died. I was walking along the edge of a precipitous cliff at night. I slipped, and began plunging through abysmal blackness. Looking around for something to take hold of, I saw two tiny yellow daylilies appear. I seized their soft petals between my fingers, and pulled myself back up into the dream, into the purview of the living. Now, whenever traction becomes weak, when I don’t remember who I am, I consider the lilies. I search for the handholds in the dark—gratitude, wonder, curiosity, humor, self-forgiveness, acceptance, presence, patience, love. I take the seeds of those life-sustaining flowers and try to grow them, not in little pairs, but in full, feracious fields.

For more writing on The Lilies How They Grow, please visit here.