- My mother-in-law, Esther, celebrated her 97th birthday last week. At her party, Esther was surrounded by her loving family, honoring another birthday milestone. She is fortunate to still live at home, cared for by family members who help ground her when she struggles with memory loss.
As a young adult, Esther worked in the WPA program toward the end of the Great Depression and later worked in area factories. She was proud that she sang and played the mandolin with her boyfriend and future husband, Fred, before the war. They were called the Singing Sweethearts and performed on local radio stations. After Fred returned from WWII, they married and Esther settled in to raise their five children on Wausau’s west side.
Living past 95 isn’t easy. The body slows down and doesn’t function as it once did and the mind struggles to keep up with a world that advances at what must seem like a blistering pace.
2016 Birds in Art Master Wildlife Artist Karen Bondarchuk honors her mother, who struggles with advanced dementia, through her artwork Ergo Sum: A Crow a Day, 365 paintings on gessoed panels, symbolizing the passage of time her mother no longer recognizes.
In this short powerful video, Karen describes the project, providing insight into Ergo Sum: A Crow a Day and how memory loss has affected not only her mother’s life, but also her own sense of time.
This year’s Birds in Art exhibition opens on Saturday, September 10, and remains on view through November 27. Karen’s work – including all 365 Ergo Sum panels – will be featured along with artworks by 111 international artists.
Make time for a visit to Birds in Art, perhaps bringing along a loved one who may be experiencing memory loss. My wife and I plan to bring Esther to the Woodson Art Museum this fall; we look forward to her response to A Crow a Day and all the artworks. I’d also appreciate hearing from blog readers about your experiences with Ergo Sum and Birds in Art.