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 currently
phones the bereaved for Hospicare and Palliative Care Services,
and volunteers for The Compassionate Friends, a national organization
supporting bereaved parents. 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 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.