Dear Editor: I can’t stop thinking about Tina Dolter. She was such a vibrant woman.
I met her at the first Writers at Woody Point Festival in 2004 at the “meet and greet” and she was dressed head to toe in turquoise.
She came up and introduced herself, told me she was an artist and talked about a project she was doing involving “maturing women.”
It was a series of paintings she wanted to do celebrating their sensuality. She mentioned a calendar she’d been involved in as a fundraiser for a palliative care unit in Corner Brook. I told her I’d just been photographed for a fundraising calendar for a women’s scholarship program at Queen’s University, and by coincidence, I just happened to have the photos with me.
She asked to see them (me in the Pacific Ocean swimming au naturel) and then she grabbed one and said “I have to paint you.”
At first I thought this was a lark. But Tina was serious and so I became part of her exhibit called “The Sensuality of the Maturing Woman,” in the fine company of Newfoundland women I deeply admire such as Bernice Morgan, Marina Sexton, Elaine Dobbin and Berni Stapleton.
Tina taught me to embrace my aging body and to understand that there is, in fact, beauty in the way it changes. And there’s humour, too. We joked about how when we finish waving goodbye our arm “waggles” continue waving for another five minutes. We also talked about “the right to bare arms,” to stop hiding them behind sleeves.
Through her art, she taught me that our bodies reveal an interior knowledge, wisdom and grace.
Tina had all of those things in abundance. And such a radiant beauty and generosity. When she had completed the “Sensuality” project, she sent a note out to all the women whose portraits she’d painted saying, “It has been a privilege to paint you, and your faith in my ability to render your portraits in a compassionate and positive way has been integral in my own faith in myself as an artist. Through you and this project, I feel I have grown immensely as an artist, and indeed as a woman celebrating this powerful time of our lives. I simply can’t thank you enough.”
It was a privilege to be painted by Tina. Her work was beautiful but also very important when women of a certain age in our society tend to be invisible.
She gave us all the gift of feeling better about ourselves. Frankly, she did that just by entering a room. I will miss her and I’m sure her city will miss her too.
Shelagh Rogers, Vancouver B.C.