Essay – Secret Talk by Susan Andrews Grace

Secret Talk

Susan Andrews Grace

The runes of Joining Worlds build a cornerstone of visual language used by Natasha and her son, Dylan. These exquisite collograph plates form a matrix. Art works in their own right, they parent images on the doors as well as make hand-pulled prints. The doors suggest ages and stages of growth in the solemn walk away from childhood. Characters from the son’s imagination such as angel, goat, dirty bubble, spider, scarecrow and brother are the backbone of this language, received by his mother. Joining Worlds contains four series: characters, animals, bones and constellations that consist of four groups of four. Collage in this context comprises a visual, emotional and developmental record of communication. Natasha Smith’s printmaking virtuosity in building layers of surface and dimension on the found doors traces a journey into childhood expression.



Secret One Gift from mother to son. If you look closely you will see a boy in the black tulle section. Yellow petals stream over his head. Encased seeds and flowers further describe mother gifts.




Secret Two Contains the wisdom of an artist walking in tall grass and looking at mosses hanging from trees. The angel rune appears in the middle of the door; acrylic transfers and prints grace the door.




Secret Three: Mother Door opens to fluidity. Its peppermint green surface invites intuitive use of colour. Both sides of the window sport original, first impressions of a constellation . This door has the power to grant wishes.




Secret Four: A door with ten windows and black and white palette suggests separation— kindergarten on the horizon. Drawing contains the door’s border with precision. Complexity of processes increases with transfers from rubbings of runes, drawings with pouring medium reflecting shadows on the wall.




Secret Five: Father Door brings to light the sacred— angels, skeletons, and dirty bubbles made concrete in clay. Ponderosa Pine needles separate clay icons; the big daddy of pine trees lends its presence. Personality of the child pushes ahead.




Secret Six: The love door came in complementary blue and red from a former chicken coop door with a window that ‘tells it slant.’ Love and pairs, hen and chick work together. Six assimilates layers and stages with rocks, bones of Mother Earth and acorns, symbol of the child.




Secret Seven: Door of independence with Keep Out sign evokes an individual while circuit boards and baby hair make a trajectory of accomplishment. Abstract plaid on the modern, masculine door hints at Dylan’s Scottish DNA. Images printed onto stickers are age-appropriate and indicate a mother’s care as does the “sewn” speaker wire.