December 30, 2013

Maine artist’s elegy to Newtown tragedy moves viewer

'The event was so horrible, so I wanted to image children being embraced,' says Wendy Patterson.

Kennebec Journal

RICHMOND — Of the 13 paintings, Christina Williams was especially drawn to the one titled “Uncle’s Songs for Children.”

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Wendy Newbold Patterson talks about “The Twenty: An Elegy for The Children of Newtown, CT” on Sunday in the Alexander Nevsky Parish Hall, 28 Kimball St., in Richmond.

Photos by Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

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“Carry Me To The Sea” is one of the encaustic paintings in Wendy Newbold Patterson’s exhibit.

The image of children listening to a man play the piano reminded Williams of playing piano for her own nieces. She said the exhibit – images of children and the adults who care for them – was poignant and beautiful.

“It was really moving about how it takes a whole community to raise a child,” Williams said.

Williams, the daughter of the Rev. Chad Williams of St. Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox Church, was one of about 50 people who listened to painter Wendy Patterson talk on Sunday about her exhibit at the church’s parish hall, 28 Kimball St.

Patterson, who lives in Gray and is a member of the church, describes her exhibit, “The Twenty,” as an elegy for the children of Newtown, Conn., and a love song to all children.

The entire exhibit, said Patterson, is her response to the deaths of 20 children in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“It had to do with my reaction to that event,” Patterson said. “The event was so horrible, so I wanted to image children being embraced.”

Twelve small encaustic paintings, which are created with pigmented wax, are arranged around a larger painting of an apple tree, inspired by imagery from T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets” poems of the laughter and voices of children in an apple tree.

Patterson said she hopes people who see the exhibit will leave with a sense of healing, of the vitality and hope that children embody, and pay attention to the needs of children around them.

Sunday’s talk and reception were originally scheduled for Dec. 15, the day after the anniversary of the shooting in Newtown, but it was postponed twice because of bad weather.

The exhibit will remain at the parish hall until Jan. 25. It will be open for viewing from 1:30-2:30 p.m. on Sundays, or by making an appointment with Patterson by calling 207-657-3886.

Patterson said her paintings, which are not for sale, will be part of a larger exhibit at the University of New England starting in March. She’s also looking for other places to display the paintings in coming months.

Susan McMillan can be contacted at 621-5645 or at:

Twitter: @s_e_mcmillan

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