Robin Botie is a blogger and Photo-shopper
who believes she can design her way into or out of anything.
For three years she lived in the trenches of a war against
cancer and became an expert in walking the tightrope between
protecting her daughter’s health and guarding her instinct
to live life like it could end in an hour. In her weekly blogs
Botie writes about growing in the midst of grief and finding
life after loss. She has worked as an art teacher at the Elizabeth
Ann Clune Montessori School of Ithaca and as a special education
teacher in the Ithaca City School District. She is the creator
and former owner of Silk Oak, an Ithaca, New York-based hand
silkscreen printing and design company. She received her Bachelor
of Fine Arts (Art Education) and Master of Arts (Environmental
Arts) from Syracuse University. A foodie, a hiker, an out-loud
reader, Botie is the proud mother of a grown son and daughter.
She lives in the hills surrounding Ithaca, New York in the
house she designed on a small pond with a green heron, ducks
and geese, very vocal frogs, deer, raccoons and muskrats,
and an occasional fox.
I always believed I could design my way
into or out of anything. To design is to start with something,
a lump of clay, a need, canvas and paint, or a girl with cancer,
and then turn it into something else. For me, to design is
to fix and to make beautiful. But in March 2011, cancer killed
my daughter. I could not fix that. I froze. Like mud in winter.
Who am I? I wondered. Who or what am I supposed to fix now?
A year and a half after the death of my
daughter, I desperately needed to breathe visible life into
my memories of her like one huffs and puffs at the last embers
of a dying campfire. I couldn’t find a job. I didn’t
even know who I was anymore or what I could do. Tompkins Cortland
Community College was offering a digital photography class.
I enrolled, knowing nothing about photography. Computers and
technology in general confounded me. But then I discovered
Photoshop. Right away I began to play with digital gossamers,
photo-shopping my daughter’s face onto everything. It
was comforting to me. And challenging.
Photoshop offers intriguing “Tools”
to work with for those whose lives are in turmoil or struck
by loss. There is a Patch Tool and a Path Selection Tool,
a Dodge Tool and an Add-Anchor Tool, a Magic Eraser, a Magic
Wand, a Clone Stamp, … and a Healing Brush. The possibilities
for change and control are endless. I began to add pictures
to my weekly blogs where I write about finding life after
loss. The site is about healing, re-inventing one’s
place in the world and finding joy again.
My pictures are mostly of living things
and landscapes. They are all about regaining life and redefining
it. Possibilities. They reflect my ongoing heartbeat, “what-if,
what-if, what-if …” In September 2012 I dove
into Photoshop. And ever since, I’ve been losing myself
and finding myself in my work.