perception

A Kaleidoscope of Perceptions

February 23, 2017
kaleidoscope portrait

As a child, I loved to play with kaleidoscopes, fascinated by the ever-changing prisms as I twisted the lens. I have learned that people are like that. I see them—you see me—through different prisms, and often the images are distorted. We see the same person, we go to the same party, we listen to the same speech, we read the same book, and we walk …

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Whatever Happened to Widow’s Weeds?

February 25, 2016
widow's weeds

A portrait of my great-great-grandmother Aurelia Smith Davis Ripley Smith Woodward hangs in the Cabildo at Jackson Square, New Orleans, part of the Louisiana State Museum collection. Neither Aurelia nor the artist was famous. The primitive painting hangs to illustrate a widow in lavender half-mourning attire in the mid-nineteenth century. Aurelia’s third husband and my great-great-grandfather, the father of her two children, was murdered in …

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