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Family Roots

2010, acrylic, 33.5 x 50", by Jenny Badger Sultan

Acrylic painting by Jenny Badger Sultan: 'Family Roots'. Click to enlarge
In June, 2009, on a trip to Calistoga, I saw and photographed an amazing ivy vine twisting and turning up the trunk of a slender palm tree It was very visceral--undulating and fascinating. Ten days later an intense abdominal pain sent me to the ER.

An intestinal blockage was diagnosed, and I had emergency surgery to remove a tumor in my small intestine. It turned out to be lymphoma, so after healing from my open wound, I began a course of 6 rounds of chemotherapy. Right at this time my grandson was born, so it was a time of heightened feelings, both emotional and physical--a lot of joy and a lot of difficulty.

When I had recovered enough to begin painting, I thought back to the photograph of the ivy vine. The forms reminded me of innards so I used them for the basic structure of the painting.

Then I began to see human figures flowing and intertwining. In the center the new baby appeared--a source of light and joy. He is supported by his parents and all around are other family members, myself newly bald [due to chemotherapy], Hank, my son and his fiancee, my brother and his wife, my brother-and sister-in-law. Then the dead ancestors came in, my father and mother, my grandmother. The large luminous face coming from behind is the spirit which sustains me.

This became a painting for healing, for honoring the connections and support of my dear ones during this difficult time.


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