Tornado Drawings

Pattie Lee Becker, What I Thought Was Once-Mine is Now Ours, 15" x 22", 2011

Pattie Lee Becker, What I Thought Was Once-Mine is Now Ours, 15" x 22", 2011

In 2011, I was struck by the large quantity of tornadoes that were ripping through the US as far east as Massachusetts. It was unprecedented and being from Kansas, I felt somehow that something of mine was being lost. I knew that I wanted to do a series of sculptures and drawings that investigated tornadoes, and What I Thought Was Once Mine is Now Ours is that exploration. The title responds to my personal sense of perceived loss and also to the emotional and physical collision of the families directly affected by a tornado’s path.  What I Thought Was Once Mine is Now Ours is the first drawing in the series.

As I Slept You Carried Me and We Listened as You Moved On are two new pieces in the tornado series, What I Thought Was Once Mine is Now Ours.  These works are also depictions of my personal relationship to tornadoes.

When I was a young child there was once a tornado whipping through town in the late evening while I slept.  My dad carried me to the basement and with my mom and brother, we all waited there listening to the radio report for the storm to pass.  We were most likely in the basement for a half hour or so, and then we returned to our beds.  These times were exciting.  Rushing to the cellar, listening to the voices on the small radio, hearing the wind outside, heading back upstairs to check the damages and seeing the green black sky recede into the distance.  The next morning when I went to breakfast my older brother was talking about the previous night's experience and I didn't know what he was talking about.  I had slept through the entire storm.  My father had taken me out of bed, carried me downstairs and then back up to bed, and I never awoke.  This non memory has always had a profound effect on me.  As I Slept You Carried Me is a non memory drawing of that storm.

We Listened as You Moved On represents a less specific memory.  There were storms every spring and early summer that made us run back to the house or bike home from the park to be safe in our basement.  These moments were fast, colorful, loud and dreamy.  This drawing investigates that energy, that pull and motion.

See more from the series here.