From Me in Her to Her in Me
Irene Delka McCray
November 17th – December 30th, 2023
November 17th, 2023 from 5:00 – 8:00pm
These paintings and drawings reflect on my mother in her final months with Alzheimer’s. The work honors and explores the metaphysical journey we took together, her leading and I following, extending my life backwards in favor of her long ago, and reflecting the reversal of trust, from me in her to her in me. Even with a lifetime of witnessing the strength of my mother’s character, it’s her end years that impress me the most.
This work also serves to encourage public visibility of our elders and opposes the cultural dismissal of “the aged”, which, among many other injustices, was brought to light during the COVID pandemic. The sluggish and indifferent response to the evident vulnerabilities of elderly citizens in care homes has prompted me to paint and draw my mother from memory, imagination, and photos taken of her through the windows that separated us throughout the lockdown.
To think that elders are insignificant in a world that is so consumed with productivity and usefulness is simply unjust and offensive. Longevity is its own state of being: holding meaning and discovery in layers of lasting. As the old fold into themselves, they assist in the outward expansion of those around them, connecting us with lost threads of a cultural past and presenting for us what and who we arrive out of.
The beautiful and complex profundities of wizened old flesh seem to me to take on a likeness to leaf veins, so I make those pairings in some of the drawings. The layering of imagery returns her, in my mind, to the expansive mystery of nature and the “all”.
About the Artist
A Boulder, Colorado native, Irene Delka McCray earned her BFA from Colorado State University and her MFA degree from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She taught for seven years at Santa Fe Community College and three years at Santa Fe International Academy of Art. During her time in New Mexico she studied in earnest Archetypal Dream Work with Ann Yeomans, whose treatment of psychic imagery continues to impact her paintings and drawings that arrive out of the soul realm of human experience. McCray, now retired, taught at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design for twenty-three years.
McCray’s paintings and drawings of the figure and cloth have been exhibited widely, primarily in Colorado, New Mexico, and California. Her work is in the Denver Art Museum’s Permanent Collection and the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art in Denver. Other exhibition venues include the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, CO, the Center for Visual Arts, CO, Boulder Center for the Visual Arts, CO, Pacific Grove Art Center, CA, Oakland Center for the Arts, CA, Kansas City Arts Coalition, MO, and the Museum of New Mexico. She is a former member of Pirate, a Contemporary Art Oasis, CO, and was represented by Sandra Phillips Gallery, CO.