Today started off like any other work day. The commute, my coffee, unlocking my office and turning on my computer. Like most work days, before I dig into my tasks, I usually jump on Facebook quickly to see what is happening in the world...in my world. As I scrolled through all of the beautiful posts on art, my heart skipped a beat when I noticed a post by Gail Schmidt. She stated, "Our art world has lost a beautiful soul. Joanna Pierotti I know you are at peace dear heart."
I have a doll...an angel doll. It hangs on my wall and I look at it almost every day. It still moves me as much today as it did the first time I saw it on Joanna's sale table at Art Is - Connecticut in 2013. I had never met Joanna Pierotti until that day.
I had driven down from Massachusetts to take a workshop with Seth Apter and to see my friend, Sandy Koterba, who I had met earlier that year. I was short on funds when that retreat was being held and, as much as I wanted to attend more classes and stay for the retreat, I could only afford to go for that one day.
I hung out as long as I could taking in all the artistic energy and inspiring work and took my time looking at all the vendor sale tables. I don't know if "Art Abandonment" was a theme of this particular retreat or if it was a much bigger thing, but I heard the term over again coming from different conversations around me. I was kind of out-of-touch with a lot of the goings on since I wasn't there for the entire retreat.
When I came upon Joanna's table I stopped right in my tracks. Her dolls, in many shapes and sizes, were displayed and I was immediately captivated. They were so different... so soulful. The colors were soft and materials were so lovingly held together with wire and string. Little pink ribbons with muslin and vintage fabrics and trim.
The face was so delicate and aged with a little wire crown on top and the tattered wired wings emerged from her back. When I looked closer, I noticed that her arms and legs were disconnected from the rest of her body but re-attached to make her complete.
There was something so amazing about this doll but I couldn't really define it. I felt like it somewhat resembled my inner self in its sort of disconnected, hanging-by-a-thread appearance. At the same time I felt like it represented my own guardian angel. Whatever it was, this doll fascinated me and even after finding her price tag, I couldn't put her down. She was sooooo worth it, Joanna as an amazing artist deserved it, and if it were any other day, I would pay for it and probably purchase the rest on her table.
So about this time I'm thinking, "ok, if I wait until next week to pay that bill, I can purchase her." I'm having this conversation with myself when Joanna approached me, probably in fear I might drool over this beautiful piece of her art (LOL). I can't recall the entire conversation with Joanna but I remember thinking I needed to walk away from her table and let this doll go no matter how much it spoke to me. I could order one on-line from her when I had the money. I could get it another time.
The last part of our conversation went something like this, "I can't take her home today. Could you hold her and I can have you ship her to me or do you have a shop where I can purchase another like her on your website?" Joanna answers, "I want you to have her. I don't have any more and it's clear you have connected with her, she speaks to you."
Believe me when I tell you I tried to put her down, give her back because there was no way I was walking away with this beautiful piece of artwork, with complete respect for the artist, and not paying for it. She insisted. I remember thinking that she had probably had a little too much wine and I should just leave the doll and walk away so she didn't wake up tomorrow regretting this moment.
So I thanked Joanna and hugged her and walked away feeling so guilty and at the same time so lucky to have been given this incredible doll, this amazing piece of her art. The first thing I did that night when I got home was to hang her on my wall where I could see her every day. I tucked her price tag behind her as I couldn't bring myself to take it off for whatever reason.
Every day I looked at her hanging on my wall I thought about how I should make a special piece of art and send it to this generous artist to thank her from my heart and to show her how much I appreciated her generosity that day and how much I adored her doll... but I didn't. And I regret that.
I never knew Joanna and I wish I did. I never knew her story until today. I never expected to find out she fought battles with cancer and her husband's cancer. So I have spent time today getting to know Joanna through her artwork, her videos and her blog. Exploring her world and her challenges and her joy of making art. She clearly was an amazing woman and artist.
I do believe that sometimes people come into your life for a reason. I also believe that my beautiful angel doll has not completed her own journey. As corny as it might sound, I believe that I was supposed to take this doll home with me that day...but not forever. I think this doll still has a journey to make and I feel like I need to make sure it gets to its final destination safely, although I don't know where to begin to look. Maybe the more I learn about Joanna, I will find the answer.
Read more about Joanna Pierotti on her blog, mosshill.blogs.com
Here are two videos that I found on YouTube: