Thursday, February 12, 2009

An inspiring story

On Twitter this morning, I saw a post about an inspiring story of an artist in Brooklyn. You can read about her and see examples of her artwork here. Cordula Volkening has been diagnosed with brain cancer and although she has had treatment (largely unsuccessful), she has opted to halt it and live the rest of her life painting - opting for quality over quantity. Her decision is based on love, she wants to leave a legacy for her two children.

I found this part of the article especially inspiring:

She painted years ago but with more mental interference, she said, making it more of an “intellectual pursuit” than the urgent, spontaneous process it is now. Now the brush itself seems to decide what to paint.

“I paint what comes out,” she said. “It’s not intellectual — it’s instinctive.”

She paints rapidly, and her images are primal and powerful. There are insistent brush strokes, bold colors and bleak backgrounds. There are faces laughing and others cringing. There are winged characters flying into the beyond. There are people hugging each other. Different as they are, she said, they all reflect aspects of her condition.

She said the terminal illness has simplified things, washing away the worry and petty preoccupations that almost made life harder when she had plenty of it. And she has never felt more connected to the canvas and to her creativity."

Extraordinary woman. I love the words "mental interference." Don't we all create artwork fighting it out with our more practical side trying to subterfuge our efforts? Cordula is just painting in the face of such tragedy.


Rayna said...

I understand perfectly. When I was diagnosed with cancer 8 years ago (thank goodness, not terminal) I decided to forget the job and do what I wanted to do full time, for as long as I had left. I decided that life was too short, which it is.
I read the same story in the Times and my heart is right there with that woman!

Rebecca said...

Thank you, Rayna! You are amazing and it is great to hear from you again (hope you remember me and don't think I'm stalking).
Readers please visit Rayna's blog at
She teaches and has a book out, too. You will enjoy her blog, she is funny and honest.