Friday, March 9, 2012
As I was working on this clay Postulant, a very dear Quaker friend was on her deathbed. Mary had been a teacher for many years in California, but had moved to my neighborhood a couple years before to be near her daughter. In the time I knew Mary, we had become very close, often chatting on the phone or in person until the early hours of the morning about philosophy and metaphysical ideas. At 92 she was as young and in love with learning as a kid. For much of Mary's adult life, she and her husband had taken in young people from other countries who came to the U.S. to study. These students lived with them for periods of time. The images in the doorway over the sculpture's heart represent that domestic generosity. (Click on the photo to enlarge it)
Each day when I came to visit Mary on her deathbed, I would tell her of the progress of this sculpture in her honor, and she would in turn tell me of the people that came to stand by her bed. Mary knew that neither her daughter nor I saw these visitors, so she would fill us in on their activities. One of them turned out to be my deceased husband, Neil, whom Mary had never met.
One night, after the sculpture was fired in the kiln, I brought it over to show Mary. When her daughter and I held it aloft over her bed to see, the power failed and we were in semi-darkness. We scrounged a number of candles from drawers and covered the bed table with lit votives so Mary could view "Mary's Contract". She said, "It looks like my bed's in a church with a big white angel hovering overhead!" Mary never saw the painted result, as she died within a week. Perhaps the bird on her chest is her departure.