Baby’s leg

May 5th, 2015
baby legs are fabulous

baby legs are fabulous

Today I saw a mom looking for art supplies while carrying her six month old cherub in an ergonamically correct backpack.  I flashed back to when I used to do that, not so long ago.

Where does the time go?  Time crawls and then is gone so quickly. It didn’t seem to be a big deal, like I was forever going to walk my baby through an art store.  I gently reached out and touched the baby’s chubby leg and he didn’t even notice.  So many memories of love and miracle flashed back.

That little leg gave me hope.  Someday he would crawl, and then would be a toddler.  My mother in-law used to say her child rearing days were “the best days of her life” and she really loved her boys.  She was a great mom, and her strapping men are noble, with deep integrity.  I hope my sons are as good as hers.

Something about the mom reminded me of when I made CINDY in 1995. Cindy was one of my most important sculptures up to that time. Here’s the story:

Our family was on vacation in Big Sur during the summer of 1995, and I saw a picture of a woman named Cindy on the front page of the Salinas Times newspaper, who was mowing the lawn around an oak tree, with her baby Dylan in a backpack.  I connected with Cindy in a big way.

For me, Cindy was my hero.  She was in her mid-thirties, working her tail off, doing everything she could to take care of business.  I felt inspired to make a sculpture of Cindy out of plywood, and it took me six months to complete it.  My mother was alive at the time, and I asked her to video document my Cindy sculpture process, so it’s recorded.

First off, I called the Salinas Times to find the photographer who took Cindy’s picture.  I wanted her to know how much that shot meant to me.  No response, but at least I tried to make contact.

I took a 5’by 8’ piece of plywood, covered it with outdoor primer, and rendered the photograph onto the plywood with a pencil.  My husband helped me cut out the form with a jigsaw, and Cindy was out of the wood, and she stood up like a person.  I put a tongue on the back, like a sandwich board, so I could move her around.  Using house paint, I did my best to make her look realistic.  I went to a lawnmower shop and bought a real lawnmower wheel, had the man cut it in half for the front of the sculpture.  I glued the wheels onto the front of the mower.

When Cindy was finished, I drove her to various locations, to see how she’d translate in public.  Did she look real?  I took her to a freeway bus stop, placed her beside an ATM machine.  I took her picture beside a real mom with baby.

I made a collage of the black and white photographs taken of Cindy on location.  The collage was more fun than making Cindy, putting her in the world.

So long ago.  Memories of making Cindy came flooding back today when I touched that baby’s leg.  I’m glad I had the chance to touch another baby leg to remember fleeting happiness.

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