Whatever will be, will be: Soldotna artist finds a new start

Posted: Thursday, September 09, 2010

Celia Cash's display at the Funky Monkey this month is more than just an art show -- it's a fresh start.

Detail from a tapestry by Celia Cash titled "Labyrinth - A Tale of Many Cities

The 54-year-old Soldotna woman has been trying to come to terms with her mother's death in 2008, as well as mending a broken heart.

"The new beginning for me is to move on and move forward," she said.

After her mother's death, which Cash calls "tragic" because she says she was treated badly at a Virginia hospital, she has been fighting for justice as well as coming to terms with the death itself.

And within that process Cash learned about herself and returned to her art.

"I got strong and got more creative," Cash said.

The show at the Funky Money is called "Que sera, sera," and has fiber art and photography by Cash alongside her mother's paintings.

Cash, who is part Mexican and has lived in France, Spain, Mexico and Canada, and speaks several languages, has a sort of worldliness to her work that is seen in her embroidered pieces.

"Labyrinth -- a tale of many cities" is a large, vibrant tapestry piece with teal, lavender, golden yellow and red threads.

Vivid hues like these unite her embroidered works on the wall of the Kenai caf.

"When I go in a store like Jo-Ann Fabrics and see all the colors and the yarn I drool over them like candy," she said.

While the craft store makes her feel childlike, most of her work has a youthful exuberance to it.

Like "Dinosaur Illusion," an embroidered bright orange border-like design that looks like there are little tyrannosaurus rexes hidden in the negative space.

Other pieces, like the houses and streets depicted in the stitched "Ellison Street, Revisited" or "Georgetown," look like boxy, old Nintendo game graphics with their pixilated pointillism.

She said she likes to create art that is "geared toward children and imagination."

That's fitting because she has been doing fiber arts since she was small, learning how to embroider from her mother when she was 8 years old.

"I don't ever have a pattern," Cash said. "It's kind of like painting on cloth."

"Celine's Crest" looks like an embroidered Jackson Pollock painting, with multi-colored squiggles scattered throughout the cloth.

Cash really broke out of the stitching box on that piece, which she said she made for her daughter as a family crest.

"Most of my work goes up and down with my emotions depending on what's going on in my life," she said.

Her photographs are less abstract with a focus on nature. There are images of wildlife and landscapes.

There's "Homer eagles," "Summer snow," "Portage and "Sea tide gem."

"How can you take a bad picture in Alaska?" she asked. "It was fun to blow them up and see what they look like in a big frame."

Interspersed with her works are her mother's paintings on large canvases. They are colorful, realistic pictures that complement Cash and get her point across.

She named the show "Que sera, sera" after the popular song sung by Doris Day.

"I just never thought my mom and I would have a show together. She probably would have never believed it either," Cash said. "So whatever shall be, shall be."

"I know she's smiling. I know she's happy that I did this that I'm fighting for her," she said.

Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at brielle.schaeffer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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