Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Portrait of Polly

I'm warning you: This is long.

Polly and I have been through so much together over the past 20 years. Jobs, marriages, births of babies, divorces, freelancing, teaching, buying houses, making art. Polly is one of the few people on earth who I feel deeply knows, understands, and accepts me. So it gave me great pleasure to create a portrait of her that attempts to express how I feel about her.

Portrait of Polly is a series of collages that show different aspects of Polly's personality. There's a story behind everything, and I'll share part of the details. The Reader's Digest version. (Polly, you know the whole story.)

Miniature rooms seemed perfect because dollhouses and miniatures are loves that we have in common. Chairs seemed necessary because chairs follow Polly home and lodge themselves in her basement, demanding to be refurbished. Quilts are the backgrounds because quilts are a part of Polly's heritage and something we both cherish. You'll see...Polly has just walked out of each of these rooms.

Polly is a mom. The most important person in her life, without doubt, is beautiful, red-haired Claire.


Polly loves her home, and it shows. Her personality shines from its charming rooms. And she's always cleaning something. Last time we talked on the phone, she was skating around her basement on rags, stripping the wax off the floors.

And she's always got some kind of household project going. She's not just handy; she has her own power tools!

Polly is an executive. Even when she's not at work, her laptop isn't far away. Neither is her Blackberry. I can't remember the last time our conversation didn't include her words, "I brought some work home with me..." Under all that high-powered stuff, she's still a writer. (Thus all the quilts are bound with a handwriting print.)

Polly is a creative soul. She knits. She collages. She writes poetry. She crafts. And she's a remarkable photographer.

And, like all of her family, Polly is musical. I have a vivid memory of sitting in the living room of her apartment in a Civil-War-era house in Morrilton, listening to her sing and play the guitar. And see those shoes? If they played the right music at BJ's Star Studded Honky Tonk, we got to see Polly break into clogging. She's good. It's that heritage thing, again.

Because Polly is from South Carolina. Near Clemson, where her dad was an ag professor. Near Anderson, where she saw her first library (which made her burst into tears because she'd never be able to read all those books). Right near Pendleton. She grew up on Dogwood Hill Dairy Farm, the home of the annual Fall Ball and Marriage Prevention Seminar. And the equally popular annual Spring Fling and Hot-Water Dance Off. The meeting place of the Young On-TROP-a-noors. She might have sat in the yard in a chair like this, sipping a cup of coffee. Those are porcelain dogwoods in the background. Miss Martha Nell, Polly's mom, was a florist.

Polly had her own dairy herd, which included Holsteins. Even in our Winrock days, if Polly got in a financial pinch, she would consider calling her dad and asking him to sell one of her cows. She would never really upholster a chair seat with the hide, though. It's just a metaphor. And her cats - Long Kitty and Tia - don't really look like those kitties. They're metaphors, too.

The red adirondack chair was built by Kevin when they lived in their first apartment in St. Louis Park. Actually, I think he built two of them. She got one in the divorce. It's in the perfect spot in her shady yard. I love to sit in it. And I don't mind if there's a margarita resting on the chair arm.
There's so much more to tell. But a portrait doesn't show everything. Just an impression.

I've lost the little note that was supposed to remind me how I intended for the rooms to go together. But I think it's something like this.
Isn't my sister pretty?

16 comments:

idyll hands said...

You are truly an amazing person. This is the most beautiful thing I've seen someone make for another person.

méri said...

I don't know what word may I choose! I am overwhelmed by your words and work!
Lucky Polly!

Anonymous said...

That is awesome and what an amazing gift for her to receive and keep and pass on to Claire someday.
--Bethany

Anonymous said...

I saw part of this episode of CSI once where the perp was making tiny scale models of the murder scene with tiny furniture and junk...never saw the end though...hmmmmm...

; ) ~jw

Janna said...

This is one of the coolest portraits I've ever seen! You are such a wonderful artist! I love your work!! I'll bet Polly is completely thrilled with it. Lucky her to receive such a wonderful gift!!

Anonymous said...

I *am* thrilled and so completely knocked off my feet my this beautiful gift (and now the words that accompany it) I don't know what to say. I will soon. But until then, just know that I am indeed blessed to have you as a friend. -- Polly

dogwood said...

Those are so so so beautiful... what a special gift!!!

Lisa_in_AR said...

So incredible! You can feel the love in this portrait.

ElegantSnobbery said...

W-O-W!! Those turned out FABULOUS!!

Your creativity just never fails to astound me, Denise! You do such amazing things!!

Punkinhead said...

My sister needs to make me something like this. Or maybe I need to make her something like this... or both. :) So gorgeous!!

Deepa said...

wow!!
Beautiful!! First time I've seen something like this.Fantabulous idea!!!

casserole said...

oh. my. gawd. I've always known it in my heart, but this proves that you ARE a goddess.

Debbie Nelson said...

Lucky Polly, to have such a wonderful friend. How touching!!

Oh Mandie! said...

wow! You're seriously amazing!

mligon said...

Oh, Denise, that is so beautiful. You are so kind AND talented. My sister is a lucky woman to have such a good friend as you.

Jill said...

Oh, how I love stitchin' and miniatures-- and I would have never thought to put them together like this! This is gorgeous~ and a super-super special tribute to your sweet friend.
Hugs,
Jill
(from EFU):)