When I was 41 years old, I was deeply depressed with daily suicidal thoughts.
I had everything but happiness. I had a nice house in Hawaii – paradise! – a nice car, good community. I was beginning to get a few good words about my sculpture in the art circles, and shows in good places.
And yet, I couldn’t figure out why I was so unhappy. I even questioned whether being an artist wasn’t something foisted upon me by my parents as a way to keep me quiet as a child – “here, dear, here are some colored crayons, have at it! And by the way, simmer down.”
I decided I needed a deep look within.
So I sold almost everything I owned – including a fabulous book collection I look back and wish I’d never given up! – and my best-of-everything-I’ve ever made collection – irreplaceable – silly me! – and shipped my car to the mainland for a walkabout.
No particular destination, just driving here and there, visiting people, camping out alone in the woods and near rivers, just to see who was inside this body, what she liked, what she thought, and what she really wanted.
I also vowed not to do a lick of artwork until I resolved whether being an artist was in truth my natural state.
After 2 years of traveling every back road I could find in the 12 western states and parts of Canada, I finally got it. It was January of 1989, and I had been camping out on Mt Sopris, near Carbondale, Colorado in my tent. Just a little chilly for this Hawaii-kind-of-weather girl!
So I found and rented a tiny summer cabin in Redstone, just a mile or two up the river from where I’d been camping. Two mountain ridges west of Aspen. The cabin was at most 15′ x 20′, built with single-wall construction and zero insulation. And boy let me tell you it was bloody cold! The day after I moved in, there was a blizzard with 4′ of snow. Imagine if I’d stayed in the tent!
One day as I was sitting near the little wood stone with every speck of clothing I owned on and still freezing, I found myself looking at a piece of firewood sticking out of the kindle bin.
I was gently musing that if I “cut off that little piece, and deepened that little groove it would look like a…”
Oh! Here I am, freezing to death, and I’m carving in my head! I must truly be an artist! Whoa! End of question!
I decided to carve a piece to commemorate my stay there, and carved Moon Bear out of some stone someone had just happened to give me. Man, it was hell carving that thing! Ever try holding a chisel and hammer when your fingers have turned to ice? Or stand for hours in a little tiny wood shed while your feet and legs freeze up to your waist? Ooooeee. Un-uh! Never again! But you know what? I was beginning to feel happy. Good!
That’s when Grace stepped in. I got a letter in the mail from an old friend with whom I’d done a bunch of self-improvement workshops in Hawaii. He said, “Angela, it’s time for you to come home! I’m enclosing a check so you can buy a ticket back.”
Well. The Universe Hath Spoken. End of Walkabout. I went back to Honolulu.
And that spring, traveled again…this time to Lucca, Italy. I had by that time been carving stone for 10 years solely by hand. So when I saw an invitation to go to Lucca, Italy to learn to carve marble using air tools…I just figured it was the U telling me what’s next. More on that soon!