“Mary Cassett had one Great Romance
in her life – her art.”
This would not have been said
about a male artist
Or if it had one could answer with
Women are supposed to be
so dedicated to their spouse
they couldn’t possibly make art, too.
Artists have always been people
who don’t let the way things are
supposed to be
get them down.
I shall have many Great Romances in
my life –
with Christ and the Church
with my beloved husband
and with the responsible use of my gifts.
I wrote this poem in 1972 when I had been married for one year. When I was ordained to the Christian ministry in March of 2000, I placed this poem on the back of the bulletin. Today in 2009, after thirty-seven years of marriage, it continues to be my life plan.
From this point in time I might change one word. Where I say “spouse”, I might now say “family”. “Women are supposed to be so dedicated to their family they couldn’t possibly make art, too. “ I have been – and am — dedicated to my family, but the family I have has always encouraged me to find time for myself and for my art. Even during the ten years our son, Lew, lived at home and required total care, there was always a space dedicated to art production somewhere in the house. Often there was even time. ..and often there wasn’t.
Arturo Sandoval, a wise artist friend, gave me some advice that I have often returned to. “When you can, do it.” He gave me this advice several years before Lew was born, when I thought I really needed it. I was Artist-In-Residence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Lexington, Kentucky. I was supposed to set up an art program and be an example of an artist at work in that place. The first several months were physically exhausting as I supervised inmates who moved tons of stuff from the future art studio to another location. I was feeling great pressure – both internal and external – to be producing art but the conditions were not at all conducive. For one thing there wasn’t a usable space. I left the prison every day brain-fried and physically exhausted. Arturo had had a similar time in his own life when he set up a new department at a college. He knew the stress would not continue at the same level forever. He was right.
Whatever gifts God has given to you, make the use of them part of your life plan and “when you can,
do it.” When you can’t, stop — but don’t quit. You can stop often; you only quit once. Be good to yourself. Let God love you and when you can, do it.