Friday, April 2, 2010

Remembering Cassia Whiteside Jevremov

This is one of those incidents where something happened over 30 years ago, and the punch line only comes now. I wouldn't be writing this for the public eye normally, but in this case, the death of Cassia is something that has had resonance throughout the plus-thirty years that followed. In many ways it has been central to my attitudes, especially regarding art and painting -- but also has extended to other forms of expression, writing included.

Though I never met her, her death had, first of all an enormous impact on her father, who was my professor for a painting class at Oberlin, and his grief, and the way he coped with grief in the days, weeks and months that followed, those insights had an enormous impact on my understanding -- to whatever degree understanding is possible -- of my approach to painting, art and life.

It led to a rather circuitous path, and may even have had some effect the next year on my decision to enlist in the Army, particularly my plan to study Chinese, to gather a better understanding of principles that Prof. Whiteside (and others at Oberlin) had impressed on me at the time. Prof. Whiteside's contribution to that was, in particular, some comments that might well have been offhand, but which have had a continuing resonance for me, particular in working to counter what I think he called an obsession with "draftsmanship." There were also some comments about "redundancy" that left a profound impression.

I left my largely unfinished paintings in an attic at Keep Coop over the summer that followed, and when I could finally return, all of them had vanished. Occasionally I fantasize about happening across one of them, hanging, probably, in a second-rate restaurant somewhere.

While I was studying Chinese in Monterey, in the spring of 1981, very near graduation, my own 16-year-old sister was fatally injured in an accident at a Utah amusement park, an event that echoed through our family for years thereafter.

I just happened upon this obituary in trying to find some material about her father's work. It is only now that I have come to realize just how many interwoven elements we shared, he and I and our families.

in reference to:

"Cassia Whiteside Jevremov, 29, daughter of Nellie and Forbes Whiteside, died Dec. 27 in the Staten Island Public Health Hospital, New York City. She had been injured in a one-car accident in Arizona on Sept. 16,"
- ohs_obits_J (view on Google Sidewiki)

Empire and Liberties by *ebbixx on deviantART

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