Paula 1962-64

Any visual reference to Paula disappeared in my life until May 16, 1995 when I drew “Reconnecting with Paula.” On the 31st anniversary of her death, my daughter Nicole had encouraged me to light a yarzeit memorial candle for the sister she never knew, but always felt in her life; the missing link in our family.

Memorium - 1995 Laminated Collage 4.5" x 10.25" 1995
I looked at my old hand and began this drawing to see where it would lead. I watched as her baby hand grew out of mine. Seeing ours hands morphed into one another, I realized that she is still a part of me. The healing balm of this discovery encouraged me to continue exploring images of young hands co-joined with older ones, of babies moving in and out of life. Intimately connecting love and loss, the enmeshed images spread across the canvas in life layers — past, present and future simultaneously coalesce.

Paula Andrée Barchilon

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
 — Soren Kierkegaard

Breastfeeding, playfully approached, became one of my first maternal images. Large stylized shapes, patterned textures of paper and fabric, bold colors and a collage approach to painting marked my figurative style of the time. Accustomed to doing quick been and ink sketches in life drawing, I applied my hand to drawing my squirmy baby.

These are some of the few drawings I had time to do of Paula as I attended classes, worked on a thesis and completed my Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Colorado (1963). They are the only direct images of Paulin in my art as she died at 21 months of age when I was five months pregnant with my daughter Nicole.