Sunday, November 07, 2010

How an Amazing Piece of Art Became My Book Cover

The first time I saw Kellie Meisl's collage, "Shattered Cups," it took my breath away. I knew that it would make an amazing cover image for my new novel, Seeing Red. Kellie was so generous to let me use it. I want to say a huge THANK YOU to her, here, for sharing her art, and her incredible vision. What follows is the story that Kellie wrote about how she came to make "Shattered Cups." It is a terrific story, and I'm delighted that it too appears in the novel. As Kellie points out, we are indeed launched on an exciting collaborARTive journey, together with flamenco guitarist Maria Zemantauski, whose music inspired the novel. The piece you are listening to right now, "Tinto Verrano," was composed by Maria Zemantauski, and is taken from her wonderful CD, "Seeing Red." More on Maria's music, and how it fed the "muse," coming soon!

The Story Behind the Cover Image, “Shattered Cups”
By Kellie Meisl
I began creating ‘Shattered Cups’ after what I call a “waking dream,” a series of related events that carry a message about loss and healing. In this case, the waking dream began one day in 2003, when a shelf in my china cabinet collapsed suddenly. Sadly, many pieces from my great grandmother’s china collection, including all the teacups, were shattered. The following day, another shelf in my cabinet gave way. I wrote to friends saying that I was unnerved, and wondered what the third “crash” would be; shortly afterward, a teacher at my son’s school was killed in a head-on car crash, only minutes after I had seen her leave the school. She had just dropped off a couple of school children at play practice in her little red Subaru. I had been sitting on the lawn beside her car with my son and his first grade classmates and I had waved goodbye to her just moments before she was killed. One of the nicest moments this woman and I had shared together the year she was my son’s kindergarten teacher was an elaborate tea party that I helped host in her classroom, replete with china pots and cups.
“Shattered Cups” emerged in part from the sorrow tied up with this loss. I created the piece for the 2009 Think Pink Breast Cancer Awareness Art Exhibit and used the piece to pay homage to the teacher, to my great grandmother, and also, to my grandmother and mother, who both appear in the upper left corner of the piece. In creating the piece, I also wanted to pay respect to all of those brave women who have faced breast cancer.
Before this collaged work of art emerged, however, I wrote a story about the “waking dream” that connected the broken china and the auto crash. In 2005, my article, entitled “Dream Themes: Crashing Teacups,” appeared in Dream Network Magazine. Last year, that article became a chapter in the book I wrote and published with my friend, Connie Caldes; the book is called Dream Stories: Recovering the Inner Mystic (available through When I produced Artemis, as she came to be known to me, I decided that she should wear an actual broken teacup from the first crash in my china cabinet. When I created her, I did not expect that she would help another woman’s dream come to life! In true Artemis spirit, Claudia Ricci was not only generous but fearless in selecting my piece to serve as a cover to wrap her novel, Seeing Red. (We all know a book is judged by its cover.)
I am grateful to Claudia for her willingness to share this artistic journey with other women; she provides for us a safe haven to share what is our birthright, out art, in its countless forms. Some beautiful color changes have been made to “Shattered Cups” (and a couple of new pieces now reside with Artemis) thanks to the help of a sensitive and gifted graphic artist, Jodi Frye.    
For sure, the dream continues to unfold! I have replaced many of the broken pieces of china, with the help of my loving mother-in-law, and I was delighted to learn recently the name of the china pattern: “Triumph.” You might think this story is exceptional, and it is, but I have learned that by awakening to my “day” dreams and the stories contained within, we can all tell our stories about what has been broken and then open ourselves to healing. The message is clear: We are but one collective vision; by sharing our stories, and our art, we live on.”
Artist Kellie Meisl holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from MCLA, formerly North Adams State College. An artist who relies on dreams as a springboard for her work, she uses paint, reclaimed wood, found objects and collage, and has created most of her pieces over the past decade for community causes. She is an annual contributor to the Think Pink Breast Cancer Awareness Art Exhibit in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and this year her intricate wire sculpture, a mermaid called "Awareness," was purchased by Pittisfield Mayor James Ruberto. Kellie has shown her work at her local municipal gallery, the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, where she teaches DreamArt classes in her native Berkshires. In 2009, she published her first book, Dream Stories: Recovering the Inner Mystic. The cover features her first painting for Think Pink, entitled, “Hummingbird Medicine.” Kellie can be reached through her website:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

beautiful and inspiring. Your words paint a story of incredible visual images and your art speaks a thousand words. Thank you.