Kathy Schumacher : Charcoal Murals
My Grandmother’s Story | A Powerful Statement on The History Of Mental Health
Thursday, May 18, 2017 – Thursday, July 6, 2017
Meet the Artist | Friday, May 26, 2017, 5pm – 7pm (Kathy will be presenting at 6:00 pm)
My charcoal drawings were created to give my grandmother Frances a voice. On October. 25, 1941, my grandmother was committed to the insane asylum in Independence, Iowa. She spent the next 15 years there until she was moved to a nursing home where she died five years later. Never knowing my grandmother and wanting to understand why she was committed I went to Independence where I was able to get her records. II pieced together her story through these
records and family memories.
I choose charcoal for my medium to better express the darkness of her story. I present my drawings unframed as I did not want to put another barrier between my grandmother and the viewer.
In the three years I worked on this project I have been very moved by all the people who have entered my studio and shared with me their stories of the effects of mental illness on their families. I was drawing for my grandmother but came to see there was a much larger audience.
Some of the comments viewers of these drawings have made:
– “I found myself looking unable to turn away.”
– “I left speechless with memories and emotions. Although my time in a mental hospital was short, you portrayed everything so wonderfully it hits me deep.”
– “What I think is incredible is that with only charcoal and paper you gave her a voice louder than audible words.”
– “You have spoken for so many silenced women.”
Born and raised in Dubuque, Iowa I currently make my home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa where I work out of my studio in the historic Cherry Building located in NewBo. I am largely self-taught including numerous portrait workshops by nationally known artists, classes at Mt. Mercy University and Kirkwood Community College. I continue my study of figurative drawing at Sunday life drawing at Coe College. I have done commission portraits and my artwork has appeared at various venues, including the Campbell Steele Gallery in Marion, Ia and CSPS in Cedar Rapids. My medium is charcoal, oil and acrylic.
My interest in portraiture has as much to do with emotion as it does in getting a likeness. I find myself drawn to a pose where the subject is looking into the eyes of the viewer creating an intimacy between the viewer and the subject. Iapproach my work with an inspiration and then take time to search art books and magazines and online to see how other artists have handled similar creations. I admire the work of Mary Cassatt and Jenny Saville, especially Jenny’s drawings of her pregnant with her one year old squirming in her arms.