Saturday, November 8, 2008

Jan Richardson, artist and writer

I'm adding a blog called The Painted Prayerbook to my blog list. It's written and illustrated by Jan Richardson. This is one of her collages at left, called "All Souls." She lives in Florida and is an ordained Methodist minister, but mostly she's an amazing artist and a wonderful writer. She's a member of a Methodist Benedictine monastery called St. Brigid of Kildare Monastery that has its home here in St. Joseph at the residence of Mary Stamps. Mary also works at Saint John's School of Theology, and is kind enough to always forward me the Savage Chickens cartoons when they're about poetry. Last winter Mary forwarded me a few of Jan's books to see, and I immediately bought two-- one on Lent and one called The Intimate Apocalypse about the book of Revelation. The images are amazing, and the text is rich and well-written. This is a woman who does not need an editor-- every word counts. She also must be living right because I know she has a busy schedule, and keeps herself fed and clothed and traveling as a freelancer, and yet she also lives a life that allows for regular, meaningful meditation on spiritual things, and time and inspiration to make consistently gorgeous and complex art. Last year she had a blog during Advent, and it looks like she will do it again this year. I plan on reading every entry.

I met Jan this past summer. She was in town and we met at Bo Diddley's sandwich shop-- halfway between our two monasteries (which are about 6 blocks apart). I'd been an advocate of a book she'd written that was out of print and that I thought Liturgical Press should publish. But I was no longer in a position to help (I probably never was, actually) and so we were meeting as two artists. Well, it was either a week before my wedding or a week after it. I had started my new job less than a month before. "Overwhelm" does not begin to describe my state of mind. And I was not able to talk at all about plans for my own writing in the future-- I had none.

Jan was quite generous about listening to what was going on in my life. And I was of course very interested to hear about her projects. At the same time, that meeting was a sign to me of how quickly things had turned on their head. I was not in the same place I'd been when we'd exchanged e-mails less than six months before. She also had experienced major life changes in that time. Yet I couldn't help feel that whereas mine had thrown me into chaos and unsettled me, she was calm and steady.

It might be why I am looking forward to reading Jan's blog this Advent. There is a calm, a centeredness, and a thoughtfulness. And the art is always astonishing and beautiful. If for nothing else, visit her web page, and look around at the collages and charcoal.

1 comment:

Communication III said...

I love these, both the charcoal and the color prints. The charcoal ones look a little like outsider art before more careful study. Passing on this possibility was certainly a loss for the press!