21-N is for No
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Netty and I met at Antelope Valley Hospital, Lancaster, California, USA. Netty started talking to me about my shorts, of all things; she liked the pockets in my cargo shorts.
I realized right away, by how colorfully she appeared and spoke, she was an artist. Then I perused a fashion magazine and I saw someone wearing an outfit that I thought she might want to wear, so, I showed it to her. This prompted a conversation about photography and art. I showed her some of my portrait work which she admired.
I requested to include her in my portrait project. She didn’t want me to make her picture because she didn’t like how she looked in pictures, but she consented after I promised her I would make a wonderful picture of her.
We were outside, in front of the hospital’s volunteer office, by the memorial garden for the pet therapy program dogs that passed away. My dog, Hector, had participated in the pet therapy program until four years prior to this posting, when he died. Netty mentioned that she herself had two therapy dogs at some time in her life, so it meant a lot to both of us to be there.
I brought out a little stool and a Netty sat among the Roses. She felt very spiritual and suddenly put her hands in Namaste position. I asked her to keep her hands in that position and to look up. I snapped a few shots like that and ended up with what we both agreed was a perfect portrait of her spirituality, colorfulness and hopefulness.
Netty was originally from Dillonvale, Jefferson County, Ohio, USA, which was very close to West Virginia, “in the sticks.” Netty said she was a Coal Miner’s granddaughter. Her family was the first and only black family in the town. She learned how to love everybody for just who they were and “I’m never going to change that.”
Artist Netty was a spiritual being who was, “trying to spread hope and love to everyone I touch. That’s what I’m doing here.” Netty’s art often had a message to it. “I don’t name my pieces because I want the pieces to bring out their own power.” Most of her work was recycled art, that is, things that “already passed” and needed to be “re-purposed.”
Netty said she did show her art “way up North,” but didn’t show anywhere in the Antelope Valley area. She was not sure if it was simply not important to show her work or she just didn’t have courage.
It was an honor and a pleasure to meet someone with as wonderful a spirit and heart as Netty.
Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin ©2017 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.