A Portrait of My Mother

January 4 - 27, 2019

Kentler International Drawing Space

Mother sets the stage for us. She encourages, pesters, creates opportunities and provides the space in which we become ourselves. Once our mother is gone her objects and her space become something more than mere objects. Look carefully, they have become Magical Things.

Magical Things, my ongoing series of watercolors, venerate the easily overlooked objects of everyday life: paperback novels, a thermos, a pencil sharpener. Mundane objects become totems, Milagros—charms of mindfulness, imbued with a power greater than the sum of their parts. Several months ago, after my mother died, I began a trajectory of this work: Magical Things From My Mother’s House.

Included in A Portrait of My Mother were portraits of objects that belonged to my mother, Brenda McNeal. Most are depicted in my own Brooklyn home; in their new surroundings they become both memorial and useful objects.

Magical Things From My Mother's House Coney Island of the Mind, 2018, watercolor on paper, 12x12"
Magical Things From My Mother's House Thermos, 2018, watercolor on paper, 12x12"
Magical Things From My Mother's House Pencil Sharpener, 2018, watercolor on paper, 12x12"

Also on view were larger Windowphilia pieces, the last of my artwork which I discussed with my mother. Inside/Outside: London (Violins), spurred her to reminisce about the music store in Fall River, MA which she frequented with her grandfather. When Bren looked at Inside/Outside: London Windowphilia (Records) she recalled with humor my nursery school days in London when I related after school with consternation: “Mommy, they don’t have records here. They have reCORDs.”

Meridith McNeal, Inside Outside Violins (Shoreditch, London), 2017, watercolor on paper , 41x55"

During this exhibition we held a Sunday Soiree, a pot-luck feast amongst the art to honor my mother’s tradition of gathering friends for witty, intelligent, art-filled fierce conversation over good food. Those who joined me became part of the magic.

Sunday Soiree was sponsored by Brooklyn Arts Council and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Brooklyn Arts Fund (DCLA) is sponsored, in part, by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, administered by Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC).