As I painted this portrait, I reminisced of a time before my birth. I recalled Grama Dodier’s life from when she was born as a “half-breed” on the prairie of Minnesota in 1880, to when I interviewed her when I was a 12-year-old in the Spring of 1968. I still have a clear vision of her log cabin and her excitement at her French, trapper dad arriving home after a weeks’ long hunting and trading expedition. I can visualize the scene as fresh now as then of her first vision of a motorized vehicle. It was steam-powered. I asked her if her daughters were flappers during the “Roaring 20s”. She laughed. She told me she helped make Irene’s dress. The times had changed and she and her husband had moved to the city (Minneapolis).
I have no photos of Grama Dodier. She is not a relative, but I carry her memories. She was a neighbor’s (two blocks away) mother. I painted her portrait from 49-year-old memories. It is truly amazing how quickly things have changed. She witnessed the first automobiles and now we were heading to the moon. She was an outcast for being a “half-breed’ as a child and young mother. By the 1950s, no one noticed her race because of her French last name. Her daughters married well. She could pass, but the Blacks and the Native Americans were still struggling in Minnesota.
I learned much from Grama Dodier and was careful to preserve these memories as a living link to the past. It is now 2017, so I have a link going back 137 years.
The painting is acrylic on 12″ x 12” stretched canvas.
Price: $150 including postage to US address.
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