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How I met your mother: An artist’s journey of discovery

  • Katherine Schimke of Greenville has been working to reveal artwork by the late Linda Wyman. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Katherine Schimke of Greenville has been working to reveal artwork by the late Linda Wyman. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Katherine Schimke of Greenville has been working to reveal artwork by the late Linda Wyman. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Katherine Schimke of Greenville has been working to reveal artwork by the late Linda Wyman. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Katherine Schimke of Greenville has been working to reveal artwork by the late Linda Wyman. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Katherine Schimke of Greenville has been working to reveal artwork by the late Linda Wyman. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • One of Linda Wyman's flower mandalas. Courtesy image—

  • Aaron Derman. Staff photo by Ben Conant—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Katherine Schimke is lucky. After all, not everyone has a healthy relationship with their significant other’s parents. But since Schimke got together with Aaron Derman, she’s gotten along great with his mother, the artist Linda Wyman. An artist herself, Schimke uses Wyman as a sounding board, a source of artistic inspiration or just a confidante.

“I connect with her on a woman level,” Schimke said. “She’s not Aaron’s mom at that point, she’s just another lady that I can relate to a little bit.”

Here’s the thing: Wyman died in 2010, before her son and Schimke got together, and so, they’ve never met. But since discovering Wyman’s artwork — and decades worth of near-daily journals — in a storage unit, Schimke has been slowly uncovering details of her life and helping carry on her legacy.

“When I met Aaron, I was recently divorced, it was very traumatic, the mother-in-law hated me, had like a vendetta against me,” Schimke said. “Then I met Aaron and his mom had passed away, so I was like, ‘Oh, all right.’ Then I start to get to know her through these journals, and I was like ‘Wow, this is a great way to get to know her.’ Because she was so eccentric that not everybody got along with her, I guess. I have the pleasure of getting to know the creative, artistic side of her and her hopes and dreams.”

Wyman’s artistic legacy is her series of flower mandalas. View a print from afar, and one might think they are computer-generated, the intricate repeating patterns created through an algorithm. But that wasn’t like Wyman.

“She never caught onto the wave of computers,” Derman said. “Computers would just frustrate her. She found a way to create a pattern like this without a computer.”

Instead, Wyman did it the old-fashioned way: she’d plant flowers, nurture them to blossom, and photograph them. Then, she’d trim the prints down to the individual flower, assemble them like a color palette and place them on a grid to create vivid mandalas.

“They’re very relaxing,” Derman said. “People love them because you place them in a room and it just kind of projects a kind of warmth, loving vibe.”

The circular nature of the mandala calls to mind the universe in microcosm, a galaxy in miniature, worlds within. And within each one, a prayer.

“There’s a message inside each one,” Schimke said. “I’ve been trying to educate myself a little bit about the history of mandalas, and they are literally prayers. They are meditations and the people who make them? There’s so much intent involved. It’s almost like when I look at these mandalas I’m looking right back into the universe, and I’m looking right back into Linda Wyman. But I also feel a sense of peace and wellbeing and healing.”

Schimke and Derman recovered the mandalas — as well as a slew of digital archives of the artwork —and are now working to get them to the public. Once they find a market for them, through selling prints and other merchandise with the mandala images, they hope to channel the profits into a local art studio space or youth art education program, just like Wyman imagined when she planted those seed all those years ago.

“When she started her garden and started this idea for mandalas, she had hoped they would become financially successful enough to fund children's art programs - local profits to local schools. That was her intent,” Schimke said. “She writes about it constantly, as if she knew somebody was going to find them and do what I’m doing. It’s really weird.”

A sampling of Wyman’s mandalas are on display at the Wilton Free and Gregg Public Library through the month of January. On. Jan. 24 at 7 p.m., Schimke will present the work and share Wyman’s artist statement. There are also several pieces of Wyman’s art on display at Derman and Schimke’s Copper and Wire Studio, in the Riverview Mill Building in Wilton.

Editor Ben Conant can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 226 or bconant@ledgertranscript.com.