The cycles of life, of a body, are continually evolving and constantly pulled back into nature’s natural balancing act of birth and rebirth. In this two-part series with Helen Redman and her daughter, Nicole, we explore these life and body cycles through a look back at the incredible six decades of Helen’s art career and life. Born in 1940 into a second generation immigrant family living in Miami Beach. Helen reflects on a life path that brought her into art and motherhood. Through her bold use of color and line, she creates portraits of herself and her children with honesty, freedom, and strength. In this interview we talk in depth about how the death of her first child, Paula, impacted her so deeply that it wasn’t until she started going through menopause that she truly processed her grief.
After graduating from the University of Miami, she moved to Colorado for graduate school. She met her first husband, the father of her three children, and obtained her MFA at the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus. Despite it being the 1960’s, Helen still found camaraderie with several male professors who encouraged
her and challenged her to become a professional artist. She began her love affair with line and color – specifically these elements depicted within the human form. After graduate school, Helen “shot out like a cannon” – showing regularly and gaining momentum. In the midst of preparing for her first solo museum show, while pregnant with her second child, Nicole (who was also present for this interview), her first child, Paula, died suddenly and tragically at only 20 months of age.
As we kept talking, we explored how this grief of losing a child and also the joy of bringing a new baby into the world could be held simultaneously – this tension being best explored, for Helen, through her art. Bright bold colors joyously meander through the paintings of this time period – the naked bodies of herself and her children exposed, but free. Her daughter, Nicole, recalls how the home they grew up in was always alive with color on every surface of the house – walls, floors, and even doors.
Thanks to Nicole’s practice as a Tefilah/Prayer leader and Head of the Hevra Kadisha/Jewish Burial Society, they both are now able to help others grieve. Together in their respective ways, they have the clarity to accept loss and to be ever mindful of the beauty that exists between pain and joy.
Please join us for Part II in the next episode, where we continue this conversation exploring the incredible life and art of Helen Redman.
To see more of Helen’s work please visit her website and follow her on IG @redman_helen .
To learn more about Nicole and her work, please check out her website and find her on IG @nicolebarchilonfrank
The Artist/Mother podcast is created and hosted by Kaylan Buteyn. You can see more of Kaylan’s work on her website or connect with her on Instagram @kaylanbuteyn