Art & Inspiration
by Souther
Souther Group Publications

"The act of creating may be balm."

Music history reveals that Ludwig van Beethoven struggled with deafness, yet went on to become one of the world's greatest composers. Now consider the equally challenging scenario of a contemporary jewelry artist and architect dealing with failing eyesight. Such is the fate of Souther, diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a condition that will rob her of central visual acuity. Never the quitter, Souther is determined in her remaining sighted years, to create as much art as possible. This is a beautifully crafted book that responds to the age-old question of what spurs an artist's imagination. Souther's cross-country road trip with her mother, a talented writer, became the impetus for this artful memoir that harmonizes personal narrative and handcrafted design. From childhood memories, to family and timeless friendships; architectural study to dreams, travel, and nature, Souther taps into a wellspring of life components that provided fuel for her creative process.

Here, classic well-polished photographs detail intricate jewelry pieces imbued with a variety of techniques. including beading, wire-wrapping, metallic work, and embellishments. Titles like "Montana Rattler," "Grace," and "Caviar," are spot-on in rendering the essence and textural patterns of the artist's work. A Labradorite chip necklace entitled "Midnight Storm" represents a palpable translation of the color and emotion of a friend's painting. Each of Souther's creations is clearly a story in design. Relative to visual issues, Souther has made one particular decision to forego making lamp glass beads, as the firing process requirements might further damage her eyes. An image of the last such flowered bead she created, seems bittersweet.

Yet, Souther's closing words in this book speak volumes. "When we focus our abilities, we feed our spirits. The challenge in life is to surmount adversity, the beauty is that we can." Such insight and clarity is a beautiful testament to creative achievement. To further her cause, profits from the sale of Art & Inspiration will go toward further AMD research. From all visual perspectives, in its two-fold purpose, this book is a triumphant and worthy read.

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