Fierce Beauty

Mar 9, 2023

Somehow my mother screwed up the forms needed for the dorm I was required to live in my freshman year in college. For that reason, mid-year, I first walked through the maws of that enormous university with not so much as a “good luck kid, here’s your library card” to help me navigate this new and oh so terrifying institution.

I didn’t eat for three days because how to get a meal card was even more opaque than how to get from class to class. I stumbled along as my stomach grumbled. My roommate was nowhere to be seen. Then suddenly two angels of mercy flew to my aid and we have remained friends ever since.

One of those women was Janet.

The first portrait I did of her was an act of vandalism. I painted her regal facial contours in high contrast, black and white on a pegboard surface, in the dorm. This second one, too many years later than I care to relate, revived the memory of the first.

Back in college we were but shadowy suggestions of who we would become as mature women. Over the years we have collected hollows and creases that evince our loves and fears and triumphs and losses.

This painting of Janet isn’t black and white anymore. It couldn’t be. It’s full of the nuances of time and of having lived a life. Her beauty has only grown. It radiates from her fierce intellect and deep connection to all those lucky enough to have her in their lives.

My mother had no idea her mistake way back when was actually my great good fortune. Thank you, Mother.

Painting: Fierce Beauty © Lissa Banks 2023