On a recent visit to Independence Art Studios, I was shocked to see that Brooke Summers-Perry, a 22 year Heights resident and neighbor, occupied one of the studios. I had no idea she painted – and in fact, she told me, she hadn’t for a very long time. Yet her work had a depth and passion to it that is rare among painters with years of experience.
Loving Mystery; an Invitation, featuring 25 – 30 paintings and poetry is featured at the Cloister Gallery at Treebeards in February.
Summers-Perry took art lessons as a teen but was quickly re-directed toward pursuing a “lucrative” career. While getting degrees in Psychology and Architecture, she squeezed in some black and white photography courses studying light, people, and spaces, but never returned to drawing or painting.
Leaving art had unforeseen drawbacks.
“I shut down and began repressing my inner longings and emotions,” Summers-Perry said. “I admired art through the practice of photography, but I quit drawing. In architecture, for various reasons, I began to mistrust my creativity, but began to flourish in listening to clients and directing design teams.”
While studying to become a spiritual director, which she got in 2015, she took a watercolor class with Caroline Graham at the Art League.
“Using the tools and confidence I gained in the class and community, I began incorporating writing and painting as part of my meditative practices,” she said.
“In 2017, the loss of a job and an unexpected surgery helped me see an opportunity to spend much more time processing loss, unpredictability, and the associated attachments and feelings,” Summers-Perry said. “I started painting with acrylics in May, and as I healed physically, emotionally, and spiritually; I painted bigger, bolder, and with less self-criticism. The freedom and healing that came from this process are what inspired me to share and put this show together.”
“There is so much pain and suffering and we are so use to denying, distracting and numbing ourselves,” Summers-Perry said. “After painting and writing my way through the pain, I feel more grounded. I am less attached to outcomes and therefore rebound and re-center more quickly. I want to share if others can benefit from doing the same.”
“What I choose to practice and teach help me to stay grounded in who I am, what I value, and what I want to bring to the places I go. When I am practicing, it feels as though it matters. It seems as though I am not alone and that I am creating with something larger than myself. It is an extremely vulnerable proposition to share this with others.”
“It has been my work with teens that inspires me to show up and share,” Summers-Perry said. “I am inspired by the courage I see and the value and importance of staying true to these expressions. When I see hope, creativity, and courage pouring out of those brave enough to share their ideas and inspiration, I remember what it feels like to dismiss myself. I am fueled to keep practicing and sharing. It is a terrifying honor to share my process and visions. What comes out is a mystery, but it is always entangled with love. In the world we live in, it is terrifying to think about where we will go if we don’t listen to our hearts and connect with something larger than ourselves. I want to fan the sparks of loving and creative longings. I think each of us has a spark to fan.”
If this will be your first visit to the Cloister at Christ Church Cathedral, forget about imagining what it’s like. The moment you set foot on the grounds you will forget that downtown Houston surrounds you. Beyond the park like setting of the grounds, the architecture itself will carry you away to another century, 1893 in fact is when the current building opened. Treebeards has been operating their restaurant for the clergy of Christ Church Cathedral since 1981 and is open to the public weekdays 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
The show will be on view January 27 – February 23 in the Cloister Gallery at Treebeards, Christ Church Cathedral, 1117 Texas Ave, 77002. Free parking is available in the Cathedral garage on San Jacinto. The opening reception is Friday evening from 6 – 8 p.m. on February 2, Summers-Perry will give a brief talk on her process and read a few of the poems.
More online: summers-perry.com
Cohen is an artist and founder of First Saturday Arts Market and the new Market at Sawyer Yards, find him at ArtValet.com.