Let Me See

 |  May 17, 2022
Bridgette Guerzon Mills | Let Me See, encaustic mixed media, 12×9 inches

“Look what I found outside!” I yelled to my older sister as I ran in to my mom’s office, breathless from running in from outside. I found my sister sitting in her sofa chair by my mom’s desk. She was working on her massive ball of yarn in her lap that had strands going this way and that way. She held the mass firmly in place in the crook of her stiff left arm, and with her right hand, somehow knotted it over and over again, one-handed, into a tangled web.

I threw myself down in front of her and she lifted her face towards my ruckus.

“What is it?” She asked as she put her small hand out reaching in front of her. “Let me see.”

I gently moved her yarn mass that was in her lap to the side. “Here, I’ll show you” I said and I grabbed her right hand that she held out and brought it to my pile of treasures that I had placed down on the tv tray table in front of her. I guided her hand to a yellow dandelion head.

“It’s a a dandelion!” I exclaimed. “I was out in the front yard and it was like an ocean of green with yellow polka dots all over it. I picked some to show you.”

She reached out searching, “Let me see”. Her fingers delicately found the stem and picked up the glorious yellow headed weed.

“It has a fuzzy golden head, sort of like a lion. Let me show you.” And I took the dandelion from her hand and turned it upside down so that the head tickled her palm. Then I touched it to her fingertips. She laughed. I lifted it from her hand and brushed the fuzzy head on her round cheek.

“See how fuzzy it is?” I put it back down on the tray and brought her hand to the golden head. She touched it with her two fingers like she was petting a little furry animal.

She smiled and asked, “And golden like the sun?”

“Yes,” I replied. “Golden like the sun.”

“I want to see more,” she said as she reached her hand out again searching for my other wild finds.

*********************

I was born the youngest of four girls. My second oldest sister had lost her sight due to experimental chemotherapy and radiation before I was born. This was back in the late 60s, early 70s. She was six years older than me. My parents taught me from the very beginning of my life, that I had to be her eyes, make sure she was safe, and help her to see the world.

For her, seeing the world meant touching and smelling and sensing. I was always putting into words what I was seeing so she could see it, putting her hands on things so she could see it with her finger tips. I truly feel like being her little sister shaped me and how I processed the world. Always observing. Always taking note of what is around me.

It is never enough for me to just see with my eyes, I always need to touch it and smell it. And in my artwork, texture and layers and threads are just as important as paint. If she were still with us, I would put her hand on the surface of this painting, and say, “See, right here, there’s a piece of fabric with a button sewn on it. And over here, that’s smooth because it’s made of beeswax. Put your nose down close, I bet you can still smell the wax. Over here I placed a piece of paper that I took from an old book, do you feel the subtle roughness of the paper?” And I’d tell her about the hike I took where the grass was so tall, that some were taller than me and there were seed pods swaying in the grass and how it was so windy that day, but the sun was shining down and the sky was a bright blue and the dried grasses were golden with the sun. And that that moment in the tall grass touched me in that way where it made me feel alive and so I took a photo of it.

To remember and to see and maybe help someone else to see the world around in a different way.

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