The inspiration for my series entitled ‘Losing Jovie’ stems from my impressions and reflections of losing my daughter. Jovie Denise Butcher was born on September 15th, 2011. Five days after her birth, she was diagnosed with a fatal syndrome called Trisomy 18. Even though Jovie had some challenges, she excelled in many areas and reached many milestones. However, on February 6th, 2012 Jovie passed away in her parents’ arms.
The paintings reflect my emotional journey as I experienced the different stages of the grieving process. Art became a therapy for self-exploration and understanding as I questioned my future, my spirituality and my life. Painting became my refuge. My art was an outlet where I felt safe to release my pain and my sorrow.
When I first started painting, the colours that I subconsciously chose were dark and heavy. As time went by; however, my colours lightened as did my heart. Some symbols in my paintings do reoccur; such as an egg to represent rebirth and immortality, a nest to represent comfort, safety and protection and a bird to symbolize Jovie. I also often use newspaper in my paintings to represent the passing of time while my world stood still.
I hope that my paintings can accurately portray the turmoil I have experienced during the first year of grieving my daughter. It is important that society understands the importance of grief after loss and to not pressure an individual to move on when all they want to do is stand still. To grieve is to love and honour the deceased, it is not to be rushed, but embraced.
Renée Lalande was born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario. She studied visual arts at the Université d’Ottawa. During her third year of study, she participated in an exchange program and studied at the Universidad de Granada in southern Spain. There, she studied art and traveled southern Europe. Renée graduated from the Université d’Ottawa in 2006 with a Baccalauréat Cum Laude in visual art. The next year, Renée attended the Université Laurentienne in Sudbury to study education. She has been an art and photography teacher at Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School in Cornwall since 2007. In 2008, Renée married Cornwall firefighter, Ian Butcher. In 2011 they had their first and only child, Jovie Denise Butcher. Sadly, Jovie passed away February 6th, 2012, due to a genetic disorder. Renée has now been taking the time to explore her artistic talents and create art to express her grief of the loss of her daughter.