Artist Jean Cornwell-Wheat

So this piece is one piece that I had three bronzes that made it through the fire, and this piece is called Aida and she’s made of bronze but the patina burned off but the patina that was left is absolutely beautiful. Art is, for myself, is life. Art is everything that’s around me, it’s breathing, it’s my heart beat, it’s my passion, my emotions, it’s love. I mean, it’s all wrapped into one. I was getting commissions, I was getting my name – my name was out there. I was selling work of doing exhibitions and it all just stopped. It started early in the morning around ten or eleven o’clock we saw smoke coming from one direction and by ten o’clock that night evacuations had started, had begun. By eleven o’clock we had been evacuated and by one o’clock my house was gone and was burned to the ground. And all my artwork, all my paintings, all my sculpture all my tools, everything was gone, everything. The only thing that I was able to get out I grabbed my laptop most of my documentation of my work was on there. If fire is the culprit, there’s not a lot you can do except evacuate and try to get as many of the things out that are important to you at that time. Would the paintings be important to me to get out? If there were a fire that came through again? Probably it would be on the list, but it would be down the list. It would be myself with the people that I love my dog, some important papers my photographs, I don’t have very many but I think those are the things that I miss most. It took about three, three-and-a-half years for the trees to recover. It has taken that long for me to recover. I learned that I think I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was. Although it’s taking a little bit longer time than I thought it would. But I’m pretty strong. I’m pretty sure some of these feelings will come out in my work when I really should get back to work I learned that even though there’s a disaster, there’s always something that comes out on the other end that’s better than it was before the disaster, and that was my immediate feeling after the fire, it was I’m free, I can paint anything, anyway I want. For people that are going through a disaster or have just coming out of a disaster I think one of the most important things is to talk about it and to talk to your friends about it, to talk about how you feel about it get those feelings out because it hurts it really hurts and to keep it in is damaging. I think you really need to get it out, and getting back to work as soon as you can. One of the very first things I did when we were evacuated, I just, it just came to me I went out and I bought one brush and a little watercolor pad and a little set of opaque watercolors, and I did a painting of where we were evacuated and I framed it and I gave it to the people that were kind enough to have us there so I did jump right back into what I felt was healing for me. It was just part of what I needed to do at the time.

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