Unraveling the Passage of Time – Elena Kaiser
“I have been an artist all my life, which now spans 61 years. My art led me to a Master of Art Therapy at The School of the Art Institute in 1986. There, I met and studied with Don Seiden, who became an important mentor – may his memory be a blessing. My current art works have been stirring in me as I aided both of my beloved parents along their final journey to the realm beyond. My father died August 8, 2018, and my mother followed on January 20, 2019. Now, absolute silence.
My midlife journey is now coming into focus. My three children are now young adults. For almost 30 years, I have put my painter self to the side in order to be their mother. Nursing, dressing, bathing, feeding, clothing, leading by example and failing to lead by example. Now, no one to take care of, no call of duty. Only a husband and psychotherapy practice to maintain. I see the passage of time unraveling. I return to my roots. I am quieting the inner critic who has kept me from going to my studio and am instead enjoying the sheer bliss of colors, textures, light, and my narrative that pokes through.
I love process painting, which is similar to what Open Studio Project promotes. Alone in my studio, each mark, stroke, and print defines the present moment. I am once again reminded of artists I fell in love with in my youth: Marc Chagall, Franz Marc, Sonia Delaunay, Alice Neel, Wassily Kandinsky, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, and others. I also remember the artists who are and were my friends and teachers, Nancy Rosen, Michiko Itatani, and Don Seiden. I am inspired by everyone who makes the time to make their life’s marks.
Finally, I unpacked my Hot Box after an inspiring week at Oxbow this summer. My monotype printing on rice-paper rolls contains a visual narrative of my reflection on death. I felt as I worked that I was reliving the joys and sorrows of death’s mysteries. Until my parents’ passing, I had never experienced death up close. But I was summoned first by my father and then by my mother to do so. I dedicate this work to their memory in appreciation of their lifelong support. Sonnie and Gene, as they were known, supported my desire to study art as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, travel alone throughout Europe and Israel, and pursue a degree in Art Therapy at a time when everyone asked, “What’s art therapy?”
It is fulfilling to now live my life being mindful of what is inside me as an artist and an art therapist as I guide others big and small to love themselves and thus love life itself.”