Excerpt from Patchwork and Ornament: A Woman’s Journey of Life, Love, and Art

by Jeanette Feldman

Dear friend, I have your recent letter in hand and have read it several times.

You ask how is it that I can write a vivid, positive, hopeful poem like Hans Hoffman’s House and yet write intensely, bitterly, negatively about my career failure as a painter, work so painful that I cannot read it or show it to anyone, not even my family. I find that this question has provoked some thought, a question that I can answer only with visual images.

Picture a ballroom in an old and seedy hotel in a small eastern city. It is a high school reunion. The people at the reunion are near the age of fifty. Their high school prom was held in this ballroom. It is bittersweet for them to listen to the musicians play Glenn Miller and to understand that the men and women they are now were boys and girls of years ago. They dance stiffly and formally on the wooden floor.

Above their heads, a great ball of small glass squares revolves. The great ball turns slowly, catching light from little spotlights trained on it. The couples dance, the ball revolves, and the images reflected on the ball are never the same, as both ball and people are always in motion. Their reflections move across the mirrored squares from dark to light, above and below, and back into dark nothingness.

I see myself as one of the people dancing my dance of life under the slowly revolving ball, sometimes in the dark, sometimes in the light, my reflection shattered in many pieces but never the same, never in the same place, many parts of one being never the same twice but always in flux, always in change. I too dance at times in the dark, an then there are times I dance in the light.

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