Helen Mary Beck
WORDS AND PHOTOS BY SARA GOMACH
If you’ve ever walked into a gallery and wondered, “What’s this about?”, seeing colors and recognizing lines and symmetry as aesthetically beautiful but realizing there’s a personal journey behind the work, you’ll love the mixed-media creations of Helen Mary Beck. Because for Beck, a UK native and current resident of Cambridge, Wisconsin, her art is personal. In fact, she has a hard time keeping her mind off of it.
After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, Beck started following the advice of Dr. Caroline Leaf, a cognitive neuroscientist and author of Who Turned Off My Brain?, to think positively. Soon things started to blossom—quite literally. At a neurological level, positive thoughts look like full-blooming trees, while negative thoughts look as bleak as a Wisconsin landscape on a cold December day. This imagery has inspired much of Beck’s current work, which depicts the similarities between neurology, human anatomy and nature. Using a standard sewing machine, the wife and mother of three intricately lays colored thread over hand-painted, water-colored canvases. You’ll find images from trees and dendrites to veins and a Mississippi River bed to bird flight patterns in her work. The fact that she can do all this WHILE rocking a baby to sleep with her left foot is still a marvel yet to be explained by science.
Beck’s work can be seen at the upcoming Earth, Wood and Fire Artist Tour in the Cambridge area, October 25–26. For more of Helen's work or to commission an art piece, visit helenmarybeck.blogspot.com.