April 4, 2017
PHOTO BY DALIA SHILAS
Dr. Eleanor Ruth Fisher’s art adorns the walls of her Lynn home and studio.
By DALIA SHILAS
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BOSTON — The first thing you see as you enter the Canvas Fine Arts exhibit on the fifth floor of City Hall is “Red Sky In The Morning,“ a glass shard painting by longtime Lynn resident Dr. Eleanor Ruth Fisher. Three of her glass shards paintings are displayed here.
Her mentor, Georgia O’Keeffe, once said: “When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else.” I first met Fisher, a joyful woman with blue eyes that shine like glass shards, at an art fair in Nahant. She explained her creations. “Glass shards and mixed media over acrylic on canvas, it’s unique.”
She’s unique as well, and it’s somewhat remarkable that Fisher’s art talents have come to light.
Fisher’s brain tumor had been growing since childhood. She knew she was limited in what she could do. “I loved to dance, yet my coordination was completely off in sports. Precise movements and activities seemed to escape me. I never knew why, until after my brain surgery, that I was capable of learning everything. It is amazing how the brain compensates. I went on to get a doctorate in psychology. I had a full-time private psychotherapist’s practice, became a supervisor and consultant, while continuing my education as a lifelong learner.“
Her physical deterioration started happening quickly. She began losing her ability to speak in January 1991. By that August, she had to place her hands on the chair arms to lift herself up when her patients left the office. That October, the brain tumor was removed. In four weeks, she returned to her psychotherapy practice fully recovered.
With brain trauma, strange behaviors started developing. One thought kept recurring: Paint. She bought art supplies and began to paint. After the brain surgery, the process of expressing other forms of creativity started. “When I think back, it was almost like an explosion of what I had tucked inside that needed to emerge. The art has a life of its own and is like one of the elements of my high-test gasoline. The other element is my husband, Dennis, who is my partner in all that we do.”
“Thoughts are energy and represent the energy force of the universe,” her husband, Dennis Patrick Treece, former director of Security for Massport, quotes Fisher in his recently published book, “A Million Monkeys.”
“What do you want to be known as?” I asked. “A lover and an artist who paints the voices and pictures that communicate with me,” Fisher quickly answered.
“I have two goals in life. As an artist, I may be able to influence people to develop their unique creativity without looking for others for approval. I tell people, ‘I bestow approval upon you. You do not need anybody else’s approval. Celebrate your creativity, no matter what it is.’ Through my art and therapy, I help people identify and develop step by step. What inspires me in other people, is their journey, their courage to place one foot in front of the other and show up, speak up and be counted. Everyone hits the wall at some time, and each person chooses what is intolerable and finally says ‘No’ because the cost of going along to get along kills their soul. Many of my paintings have stairs in them. Stairs represent enlightenment. I realized that each painting is me, how I feel about my life. For many years I was unable to express me.”
Fisher lives in a grand Victorian house in the Diamond District of Lynn. It has two names: “Garden by the Sea“ and “Deer Cove Light.“ Her maternal grandparents came from Lithuania and the family, Fisher and her parents included, settled in a two-family house on Commercial Street in Lynn’s Brickyard section.
Her art subjects are mostly women, strong, confident, romantic, erotic and free-spirited. “I don’t do men very often,” she said. “I don’t understand them the way I know women. Look at the ‘Mermaid Princess.’ She is a mermaid, deciding to be a woman, and everybody says ‘No no no!’ Stay a mermaid. You don’t know what it’s like here!’ ”
Fisher’s pastel pink studio, with its ocean view, natural light, easels and boxes of glass, jewelry and seashells, is where art is born. She puts on safety glasses, a long work shirt, an apron and gloves, and turns on a machine to show how she slices Murano glass. Here, she explains the process of creating one glass shard painting that takes about 720 hours to complete.
“Each piece of glass that I carve is pointed at both ends,” she said. “Then I take them in my hand and cut several curves on each side. No lines are straight. The shaping and carving of each piece of glass are why the glass shard paintings feel alive and beautiful, and evoke emotions.”
Glass shards wound hands, bring back memories and magnify the pain of the past. Sometimes, like a vase shattered into pieces, we feel like there is no hope. What we do with the broken pieces, that’s what matters.
The work of Canvas Fine Arts artists Eleanor Fisher, Winifred Breines, Tally Forbes, Sidhartha Pani and Janice Williams can be seen at Boston City Hall, 5th floor, through May 30. For more info: firstname.lastname@example.org.