Mother of Lesbos
29″w x 23″h • 2001 • acrylics/collage • $3,000
Framed original painting on canvas by Betty G. Miller, signed “Bettigee” twice, in ‘00 and ‘01 so it must have been reworked between those two dates. It was shown in the Sept-Nov 2008 NTID Dyer Show.
This painting shows two women with semi-transparent nude in the background, other women’s shapes, and collaged happy faces of women at bottom. Also, an image of woman’s eyes looking out from behind wooden barrier, which is from a postcard advertising a show by a Greek woman artist. Additionally, it has buttons– clothing buttons– that show a pink triangle, and small stickers of hearts.
“Mother of Lesbos” came out of Betty’s personal experience, and the painted image of the two women were suggested by a photo of Betty and her mother, Gladys, taken at Spectrum in 1977 or 1978. It’s a very rich and complex painting, one of the few that show her experience as a lesbian rather than as a deaf person. There is a lot of tension in this painting, shown by the contrast of the central two women’s expressions with bright and happy colors. While Betty’s parents knew she was lesbian, it was something that they didn’t– couldn’t– talk about. The bottom, a small part of the entire canvas, shows two women happy together. So while this tension and regret hovers over them, love finds its way.
This is one of my favorite paintings by Betty, and I hope that when it sells, it goes to a good home, one where the straight and gay members of the family love and cherish each other. This painting serves as a reminder of the pioneering spirit of gay men and women who found a way to step out of the closet and into light and love.