A subtle narrative thread runs through Erika Guillory Page’s Word Weavings®. In these complex, layered works on paper, every stroke in the work – and even the scraping to remove paint – is a letter, a word, a written expression of emotion: joy, concern, love, prayers, gratitude, questions and sometimes pain – emotions that transform us under pressure. Each piece signifies a back-and-forth conversation. Many are letters to someone: to her daughters, to friends and family, to herself. Done with oil stick, each stroke is part of a process of discovery for her, for gaining perspective and for finding her voice.
Her Word Weavings® emerged from what she calls a frenzy of journaling during a time in her life of adjusting to new roles, from a career as a professional nurse to those of a wife, mother and homemaker.
“In a sense, I felt that despite the importance of each of those roles, I had become invisible. I wanted to find my own voice, to express my emotions and relate to those who may feel the same.”
Page chooses colors that, to her, fit the emotion of the words, and she approaches the paintings, literally, from all four directions. A former dancer, she moves around the piece in what becomes a rhythmic dance, much like the rhythm of a weaver, interlacing the weft and warp threads or yarns to create a tapestry with layer upon layer of meaning.
Her large works on panels, too, are connected to word weavings®. Done with oil paint and cold wax to create a rich texture, they are more of an open weave and reveal clues that evolve her stories and give it both greater abstraction and sophistication of detail. As with her word weavings® on paper, she begins each one with written words and approaches these large panels much in the same way – from all four directions.
"There are words that hurt, words that heal, words that advise and words that change things. The process of writing all these words in my work helps me make connections. Sometimes things I don't understand are critical elements of a larger picture. I have to trust in the process and have the courage to make the marks and share the story. I work on trusting that in the end, something beautiful will emerge – each piece 'perfectly imperfect' – much like what I believe life to be about. For me, word weaving is metaphoric for living within the rules, within the boundaries: I do the preparation to begin the painting carefully and meticulously, while being completely free in spirit as I let the words flow from my heart and mind."
The process becomes an integral part of the finished piece, revealing a warp and weft of precision and abstraction that mirrors the boundaries and creative freedom of human existence itself.