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The Kennedy Center

Artists Featured in Book

Marjorie Saunders

Photo of Marjorie Saunders

With 11 children, 33 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren, Marjorie Saunders is a town matriarch in Waterbury, CT. When her son was shot and killed, her world caved in. Most of her children did not want to talk about him or his death. Her grief led to depression -- she was not even able to get out of bed. All she could think about was that he was gone and she would never see him again.

But it wasn't until she started painting in a VSA arts "Windows of My Mind" program that Marjorie started to open up again. One day, Carey McDougall, who ran the painting program, suggested participants draw a picture about someone they cared about.

"I told her about my son." Carey suggested she put his picture down on paper to visualize what Marjorie felt might give closure. "I started talking ...it was like a floodgate opened...Drawing brought back the memories, but it was more like a relief. It made my memories seem more real... I'd draw him looking in the mirror. He was always looking in the mirror with his hat...He had done it the day he was killed."

As she painted it became easier to remember, and other good memories surfaced. "Painting is like medicine...It is sort of soothing...it takes the ache away for awhile. I feel happier now...When I first started painting, I was doing browns and blacks. All of a sudden, now I am doing colors like lavendar and pink and orange...I like to draw flowers. Things that are pretty...things that are alive."