Turning Grief Into Art

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The Chalice, 2011, by Jane Getsinger


Grief ebbs and flows in our lives. For Jane Getsinger, painting became a channel for dealing with a lasting sorrow.


Earlier this year, Trinity accepted a painting given to our parish and created by Jane Getsinger. You can find it hanging in the Hospitality Hall, over near the table by the window, radiant with light from the courtyard.

The painting is striking: a chalice bathed in the light of a doorway, casting a long shadow against the wall behind it, one that magnifies its features and accentuates them in the contrast between light and dark.

The Chalice, as it’s known, finds its genesis in a similar time of contrasting light and dark.

Nearly four years ago, Jane’s son, David, succumbed to a devastating drug addiction, passing away in February 2011. His long battle began with a sports injury, and later a painkiller dependency, and one habit led to another, deeper and deeper into darkness.

“I had been asked to do a show [for the Iredell Museum] in 2010,” Jane said, “and the series of work I had committed to became an evolution and turned into my therapy, really. It became my way to cope.”

The work’s composition, too, was inspired by a trip to Mt. St. Michel in France. When they arrived on site, well after nightfall, there was a sound and light show going on in the 800 year-old monastery. Jane describes the experience as mystical: “I never forgot that evening. The next morning, in the brightness of daylight, that numinous, ancient quality was gone.”

Jane returned to the States with a series of photos taken in France, and after the devastating loss of David, she began painting The Chalice based on a black and white photograph.

“I needed the comfort of what the chalice and its ‘thrown shadow’ mean. I wanted to see if I could experience some healing…some peace…through the contemplation and drawing of the image. It kept me busy and amazingly at times I was even happy.”

Jane says the painting was never intended for sale; she kept it in her home for some time, but later felt moved to give the piece to Trinity. Now it rests, its beginnings infused in light and darkness, for our parish to experience. —James Hogan


This article was originally featured in the November 2014 edition of Trinity Topics. Read this and other editions here.

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