Healing Art  



Healing Art
Building Forgiveness
Jewish Transcript



Healing Art

Local artist set to premiere her latest work


By Melissa Hoyos

Special to the Reporter


As a young girl, Madelaine Georgette grew up with racism.  Born and raised in South Africa, segregation appeared natural to her, even though it was unnatural to her heart.


For the next month, Georgette will confront some of the struggles during apartheid by showing her recent work, entitled Truth, Justice and Reconciliation.


Georgette’s exhibition, through Dec 11 at Seattle Pacific University, will include 20 painting inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearings in South Africa.


Her current paintings, the last in a four-part series, address the institutions that supported racial discrimination, such as the judicial system, the media and religious sanctions.


Another way to communicate with people is visually,” said Georgette, a Mercer Island resident since the mid 1980s.  “ I want to show what happened.”


Georgette, who started her project on the TRC hearings four years ago, began taking art lessons when she was in high school.  After graduation, she took one yar of art at Johannesburg University.  A mother of three grown children, Georgette started painting again once she moved to Mercer Island.  Besides her passion for art, Georgette tended to her own consulting business on the Island for city service studies. 


In 1994, she pursued a degree at the University of Washington and soon began painting full time.  Since graduation, Georgette’s paintings have been featured in numerous art shows, such as the Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Center in Seattle.  “The venue meant a lot to me. (My work) was one of the first exhibitions, said Georgette.  “The showcase featured the first series on TRC.”


Similar to the TRC project, Georgette’s art is mostly based on South Africa.  “My fourth pieces are very intuitive.  I approached the canvas and just started to draw.  They really just came out of her,” she said, pointing to her heart.


A resident of South Africa for 27 years, Georgette came from a privileged Jewish family and was very aware of her social status.  Since both her father and husband lost family in the Holocaust, Georgette always felt a strong sense of prejudice.  “Everything had division,” she said. “But my life was a cocoon, I lived through most of it but I didn’t do anything about it.”


In the 1960’s when all unskilled work was reserved for non-whites, Georgette vividly remembers when a group of Japanese businessmen were declared honorary whites during their visit to South Africa.  It was not until the 1990s that changes in the social system and government came about, according to the artist.


Now through the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation pieces, Georgette hopes to start the healing process and spark awareness in others.


The TRC is incredibly brave,” said Georgette.  “It represents tremendous courage.  These ideas, in a way, are bigger than people.”


Georgette’s showcased works are done in oil and are divided into three canvasses called triptychs, to represent a segmented South Africa.  The cell structures, which dominate each of her paintings, symbolize truth within the healing process. Georgette used readings to inspire her to paint, develop phrases and patterns hidden within her paintings.  “Painting is analogous to writing, she said. “Patterns and fabric design are intrinsic to who I am.  It all comes out in my work.”


Eventually, Georgette wants to donate some of her project work to a South African museum or university; however, she will need to find funding to transport the artwork.  For now, she is content in knowing that her pieces have the potential to start the recovery process, for not just South Africans but for people around the globe.  “I am hoping that my work will stand on its own,” said Georgette.  “For me, it’s a form of healing.


Reproduced by permission of the Mercer Island Reporter

(Article appeared November 13, 2002)







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