Just like Alice falling down, down, down through the rabbit hole, artist Lori Marble, with one misplaced, clumsy step, fell tumbling down, down, down through the dark in the middle of the night. From the kitchen to the basement, down the stairs she fell.
All through childhood Lori’s missteps were attributed to clumsiness: a clumsy child became a clumsy adult. No one knew her motor skills were compromised by hemidystonia—a condition that affects muscle groups on one side of the body and can cause a loss of balance and difficulty moving. Lori’s hemidystonia made her sometimes drag her left foot.
Like so many of us who have taken a significant life tumble, Lori had a wakeup call that came at the bottom of her spill: she needed to do something to improve her ability to safely navigate through her days…and nights! She did. She had a deep brain stimulation device surgically implanted to help with her condition. Now she totes a battery pack in her chest and a pacemaker in her brain. They control the motion on her left side. They help and so does painting—Lori’s therapy of choice.
After her 2018 surgery, Lori began to explore her brain and creativity connection. Though her dominant side is her right side, she began painting abstract art with her left hand, the side affected by her hemidystonia. At first she had to hold a rock in her right hand to train that side to be still. Now her right side is content to stay at rest as she moves her brushes across picture planes. Left-handed painting has become Lori’s everyday habit.
Like Alice, Lori took a tumble and ended up in a land of magic. Alice found her Wonderland populated with a plethora of colorful characters and fascinations waiting to be found; likewise, Lori, led by her hemidystonia discovered a colorful inner life waiting to manifest!
Of course, Lori was not on her own as she made her recovery and journeyed into a new way of living and moving and painting. Among her many friends, artist Jo Mueller, former director of SPIVA Center for the Arts in Joplin, was her partner in discovery while Lori explored and exercised her new found creative passion.
When I pitched to Lori the possibility of doing an artCentral exhibition with the proviso she propose another artist to be her exhibition partner, she immediately suggested Jo. Jo said, “YES!” Dates were selected. Their creative collaboration was set in motion, and “p-i-e-c-e-d TOGETHER” was underway.
Lori and Jo were in daily conversation choosing creative parameters and a ten month production schedule. For each month they identified three challenges—words and colors and motifs.
Words: The mothers of both artists were both librarians who serendipitously were born on the same day. Both raised their daughters with a love for words. Quite naturally, Lori and Jo took great mutual delight in choosing a different quote to inspire their creating for each month.
Colors: Lori and Jo took turns selecting a triad of colors to be included in every creation for a particular month.
Motifs: A specific motif/marking/Zentangle was designated to be used in each artwork made in a month.
Thus “p-i-e-c-e-d TOGETHER” was brought to life before Jo learned she would be losing hers to a terminal illness. She created as long as she could, and then with a great and quiet dignity she took leave of her dear artist friend and their collaboration that she so dearly loved. Jo’s presence is still with us in this remarkable body of work. Come and see: “p-i-e-c-e-d TOGETHER” is in the House!