Janis Timm-Bottos, founder of OFFCenter who now lives in Canada, remembers Stephanie Anderson here on our blog, and in the latest issue of The Gleaners, now available on our website.
Seeing Stephanie in my mind’s eye.
Several days ago, Leo and I were sitting bundled up on the edge of the lake in our collapsible lawn chairs with most of the rest of our little town watching beautiful fireworks on Canada Day. We watched in awe as the shower of magnificent color in great round shapes burst forth against the blackness of the summer night sky, and then, floated down, disappearing below.
While colors of roundness completely filled my range of vision, I could not help but think of our dear friend and mandala artist, Stephanie Anderson.
While I am still in shock and living too far from home to comprehend how someone can die while simply doing their job, I frequently pause throughout each day and picture Stephanie in my mind’s eye. I see her entering the studio with her back pack over her shoulder and bike helmet in hand, smiling broadly while quietly sitting down and getting out her large drawing pad to begin to work. Stephanie was a focused, self contained woman.
I have a PowerPoint slide of Stephanie that I use when I am invited to speak about my beloved OFFCenter. It is a picture of her bent forward with her ear phones, her pencil filling in small shapes of color that combine to form a large round world. I use this photo to explain to the audience one of the many qualities of the community studio.
How the artists who make art with others, are not only individuals with their own crafts working in isolation but that they are also uniquely apart of something bigger than themselves. I say that even though this artist is obviously focused on the art work in front of her, she is also at any moment completely and utterly engaged with the community surrounding her. There is a particular attentiveness Stephanie is demonstrating that many of the artists at OFFCenter have developed. It is the skill of being authentically inside of yourself and working from there, while also being aware of your surroundings, ready to engage, to reach outside of yourself to empathetically connect with another.
Stephanie’s presence in the studio was always a gift to the community. She emulated the bravery it takes to truly be yourself, exposing your inner self through the vulnerable act of art making while offering a warm human connection when needed. Stephanie deeply cared about her world and took action when necessary. She was the bright colorful light that her art depicts. And her quiet, attentive presence will truly be missed.