My recent body of work addresses the grief I felt and still feel over the death of my mom. On March 29, 2004 at 2:38 a.m. mom died at a Hospice Center of pancreatic cancer. She was seventy-three. I thought she would live forever, as I couldn’t imagine my life without her. More importantly, I couldn’t imagine fulfilling her wishes of taking care of my oldest sister Renee who is mentally disabled. Even though I spoke openly at lectures for years about inheriting Renee, I never could have imagined how challenging this job would be. I watched my mom take care of Renee with great ease for years. I witnessed mom holding and comforting Renee during her seizures. She made it seem effortless and she did it with so much love.
With my new responsibility of raising Renee and mourning the loss of my mom, whom I loved dearly, I am in a fog. I am overwhelmed and numb with pain and sadness. I also feel guilty for not slipping into my mom’s footsteps with ease. I’ve always felt more than adequate and have awards as an artist to support that notion. Raising Renee is my toughest challenge to date.
My paintings are about raising Renee and our journey over the past six years of taking care of each other. Its about my struggle to negotiate my life’s work as an artist, as well as keeping my promise to care for Renee. Renee says that she is happy. She’s busy making potholders and decorating birdhouses. Renee says she wants to start over, learn and do new things. To her, this is an opportunity to begin anew. Renee now lives in her own apartment in Greensboro. This is the first time since my mother’s death that Renee and I have not lived together. Renee is doing very well. She goes to a day program and she worships every Sunday at the church where she and mom attended together. I am adjusting to life without caring for Renee daily. It is liberating and I am learning to give myself permission to do things I love. I am re-learning what I like without Renee; from the food I eat to where I vacation. Both Renee and I are reinventing our selves. And life is good.
ABOUT BEVERLY MCIVER
Beverly McIver was born in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1962. She is the youngest of three girls born to Ethel McIver. Her oldest sister Renee is mentally disabled. Renee is 48 but has the mindset of a second grader. Beverly is Renee’s legal guardian.
Beverly is widely acknowledged as a significant presence in contemporary American art in general and has charted a new direction as an African American woman artist. She is committed to producing art that consistently examines racial, gender, social and occupational identity. Her sister Renee is a frequent subject of the artist as well as other family members.
“Raising Renee”, a feature-length documentary film produced in association with HBO by Academy Award-nominated and award-winning filmmakers Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan, tells the story of the impact of McIver’s promise to care for her sister when their mother dies. It will premiere at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.
Her work is in the collection of the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, N.C., the Baltimore Museum of Art, the NCCU Museum of Art , the Asheville Museum of Art, The Crocker Art Museum and the Nelson Fine Arts Museum on the campus of Arizona State University.
She is currently the Suntrust Endowed Chair Professor of Art at North Carolina Central University. Prior to this appointment, McIver taught at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ. for twelve years, Duke University, North Carolina State University and North Carolina Central University. She has also held residencies at many of the nation’s leading artist communities, including YADDO, the Headland Center for the Arts, Djerassi, and Penland School of Crafts. She has served on the board at Penland School of Arts and Crafts and currently serves on the board of directors at YADDO in Saratoga Springs, NY.
McIver’s work has been reviewed in Art News, Art in America The New York Times and a host of local newspapers. She has received numerous grants and awards including the Anonymous Was A Woman Foundation grant, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship from Harvard University, a Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation award, a distinguished Alumni Award from Pennsylvania State University, a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award and Creative Capital grant.
McIver will have a solo show at the Betty Cunningham Gallery in New York City in May, and a solo exhibition at the North Carolina Museum of Art in the winter of 2011.
McIver earned a bachelor’s degree in art from North Carolina Central University, a master of fine arts degree in painting from Pennsylvania State University and an honorary doctorate from North Carolina Central University.
ABOUT SMALL WORKS
Beverly McIver: Small Works, opens with a reception with the artist on February 25th, from 5 to 7 pm. The artist will also give a painting demonstration and gallery talk on March 24 from 5 to 7 pm.
While viewers can see a major retrospective of McIver currently at the North Carolina Museum of Art, Small Works offers a portrait of the artist working in a more intimate scale, mixed media on paper and monoprints, as well as her signature oils on canvas. The exhibition showcases some very personal pieces; text, sewing—a craft she learned from her mother—and collage feature in many of the paintings. Although smaller in size, the artworks in Small Works have the beauty and power of self-revelation so evident in her largest paintings. Also on view will be a recent portrait of the artist by her mentor, Philip Pearlstein. A documentary about McIver, Raising Renee, will be featured in February on HBO.
Beverly McIver was recently named ”Top Ten in Painting” in Art in America.
A documentary about McIver, Raising Renee is currently being featured on HBO.
Painter Beverly McIver Balances Art and Family, Barely, in the HBO Documentary “Raising Renee”
ARTINFO.COM – February 22, 2012: “Painter Beverly McIver Balances Art and Family, Barely, in the HBO Documentary ‘Raising Renee” by Sarah Kricheff
NYPRESS.COM – February 22, 2012: “Raising Renee: A Sit Down With the Subject of the Powerful New Documentary” by Noah Wunsch
MOVIEBUZZERS.COM – February 22, 2012: 8 out of 10 star review by Melissa Hanson
BEVERLY MCIVER: IN THE NEWS
Blue Greenberg’s column “Two exhibits tells stories of survival” about Beverly McIver
in the Herald Sun
Tar Heel of the Week: Artist, Beverly McIver, creates more than art
From the Raleigh News & Observer, June 19
now showing at the North Carolina Museum of Art
Read the review by Chris Vitiello in the January 4th