Insights with Nancy Noel
Interview with Nancy Noel by Katie Smith

Katie: I am a bereaved parent who has used art in my grieving process after the stillbirth of my son, Charles. Like the poetry I've published at Kota Press, I find various forms of art to be healing to the soul. Can you share some insight into your perspective on loss & art?

Nancy: When I paint something there's not really a reason why I do it. I focus on something and just go for it. When I started to do works of art on angels, I didn't realize how much of an impact it made to the public especially those that have lost a child. It wasn't brought to my attention until I received such an overwhelming amount of responses from my public.

Katie: Shortly after my loss, I contacted Neo Fight, a local support group, and became friends with a very dedicated member of that group. She introduced me to your art, and I've been an avid fan ever since. Your beautiful paintings of angels offered me some comfort, faith and hope during a very difficult time in my life. How does your spirituality influence your works of art?

Nancy: I believe that when you die that you don't completely leave this world. Our loved ones are with us always even in death. They give us signs to show that they are here watching over us. With that belief, I felt the need to continue painting angels and create the book, "I Am Wherever You Are."

Katie: On my son's one year anniversary of his birth, my Mom gave me your book, "I am Wherever You Are." This book of your heavenly angel paintings and the touching, heartfelt quotes, warmed me from the inside out like a bear hug. On behalf of all bereaved parents, I'd like to thank you for your dedication to provide such a sentimental book for many. What inspired you to create the book, "I am wherever you Are." Was it personal or in response to those that have seen your art?

Nancy: My own personal beliefs of our children even in death always being with us and the public's views of my art encouraged me to create this book and continue painting angels. I'm really glad and honored that my artwork has touched so many bereaved parents & has given comfort to so many.

Katie: After you published the book, "All God's Creatures Go To Heaven," you received an enormous positive response from many bereaved parents. Your intentions for this particular book seem to be to teach children that everyone goes to Heaven even animals. Because the story was narrated by a little angel boy named, Jacob, the story touched the hearts of many bereaved families. This book helped lead you, from what I understand, into creating the book, "I Am Wherever You Are." What can you tell our readers about, "I am wherever you are?"

Nancy: Several of my angels are offered along with the quotes and poems which are all meant to offer some hope and comfort to those hurting. I'm very proud of the book. It's just now starting to get more noticed by the public. I wanted to create a small book, so people can take it with them wherever they go to enjoy at any time. I also wanted it to be a book that didn't preach, but simply offered comfort and encouragement. I chose the title, "I Am Wherever You Are," because I believe that our children are with us always.

Katie: We have many freelance and beginner artists that share their work at Kota Press. For someone who is just starting out in art, what words of advice would you give them?

Nancy: Don't give up on your dreams and follow your heart.

Katie: In your current issue of NOEL magazine, I learned that you have a disability known as Dyslexia. I was born with a disability known as Spina bifida, and I can truly relate to the difficulties and challenges you dealt with throughout your childhood. I also applaud you for the therapy program you're actively involved in with your llamas. Has your compassion for children been a direct link to the cruel treatment you received throughout your childhood?

Nancy: As a child, there were so many things that I could've done, should've done and would've done, but I was constantly told that I wasn't intelligent enough. I wasn't diagnosed with dyslexia until much later and had to come to terms with that as an adult. I believe that my compassion for children stems from the hardships of my childhood. If I had never dealt with dyslexia, I may not have done the things I have for others as an adult now. I take my llamas to various hospitals such as Riley Children's Hospital and adult nursing homes. I also invite different groups such as, Brooke's Place for Grieving Young People, to my farm so they can spend time with my llamas. My involvement in this program is one of my greatest pleasures.


Editor's Note: When Nancy Noel paints a child, she focuses on the child not on any thing that may show that he or she may have a disability such as being confined to a wheel chair. She refuses to paint a child in any kind of confinement, because things like wheel chairs do not define a child. Their disability is not what that person is in life. Nancy wants people to see an individual's beauty from within. Disability doesn't mean that one cannot function in society. Anybody can do anything as long as they put their heart into it. Check out her painting, Gentle Heart. Nancy's hope was to show the spirit and beauty of a child with Down syndrome and reflect that precious child's "gentle heart." Indeed, she has done just that! And Nancy has shown her own gentle heart through all her amazing work.


Acknowledgments: I'd like to thank Nancy Noel for inviting me into her beautiful & cozy home on February 12, 2003. It was a wonderful afternoon of enlightening conversation, and I consider Nancy to be a new friend. She is an inspiration and an intelligent woman with a beautiful heart. I was truly honored that Nancy was interested in knowing more about my own experience of loss as she listened to me share my son with her. It was touching that she took the time to look at Charles' memory album of his photos and poems that I wrote in his loving memory. It was also very thoughtful and loving of Nancy to dedicate my personal copy of "I Am Wherever You Are" to my Son, Charles Christopher. I'd also like to thank the Noel staff for their kind assistance prior to my interview with Nancy. They made me feel very welcomed as if I was part of the Noel team.


About the Interviewer
Katie Smith is the co-editor of the KotaPress Loss Journal, a working member of Neo Fight, co-founder of the IN MISS Chapter, bereaved mommy to Charles, and so much more. (We at KotaPress are continually grateful for her help and insights!!)

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