Memories from Childhood


62 years ago, my mother and I. Ferncreek, KY.

Today, by coincidence, I was looking in my studio for a particular piece of Japanese rice paper that I had misplaced, when I came across this little doll-like figure I had made when I was two years old. My 93 year old mother had saved this little doll for me and gave it to me one of the last times I saw her.

Also coincidentally, I am going to see her again at the end of this week, so I decided to include the little doll in one of my current collages.

“Hi Five” by J. Kirstein. 14″ x 11.” Mixed media. June 2019. Before the final touch of the “Hi 5.”
“Hi 5” finished piece by Jan Kirstein.

I added a “Hi 5” on the drawn part of the collage. I also added a variety of quick marks reminding me of what it felt like to be a kid again. I work with childhood memories from time to time in my work, as it takes me back to my creative origins and original unbiased urges, unrestrained by propriety and judgemental restraint.

Ironically enough, though the title suggests the hand-slapping connection of one person’s celebratory smack of another’s hand, this little creature appears to have no hands, or arms, for that matter.

I can distinctly remember when it occurred to me at age 3 that people’s arms grow out of their torsos, not their heads. I could not believe my vast ignorance at thinking this preposterous error previously. I remember having to readjust my entire paradigm of my understanding of human anatomy to be able to proceed forward from that day on.

Apparently I had not yet had this epiphany when I made this doll. I think my mother must have surely helped me with some of the details on it, like sewing on the buttons for eyes, or maybe demarcating the facial features with a few simple lines. But she claims it was “all Me.” She said she saved it because she thought it showed unusual ability for such a small child.

Thank you Mother for your observation and awareness.

Now I have the opportunity to love and learn some things from my two year old self! I only hope I can access my true fire and intuition as well as I did as a two year old child.

After all, Picasso did say: “Children are the best artists.”

Collages and writing by Jan Kirstein

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2 thoughts on “Memories from Childhood

  1. Andria Creighton

    I hope you access your inner child. Until I went on that retreat to Niwot, CO in 2017, I never thought of my inner child. I need to bring her forth more and engage with her. I did not mean to forget her. I think I was just protecting her. Have a good visit with your mother.

    Liked by 1 person

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