Kitty Sivertson

New Sensations

It's a Picasso. It's a Vermeer. No, it's a Sivertson. Debuting at last year's "Fabulous Fakes" exhibit and participating again in the 2007 Art League of Hilton Head event, Kitty Sivertson is emerging as a new sensation on the area art scene while fulfilling a lifelong dream.

The premise of the annual art show is to create an obvious copy of a famous painting, but to add a little joke, Kitty explained. For one of this year's entries, she created a masterful copy of Picasso's "Girl before the Mirror." Instead of a matching abstract reflection, Kitty's "joke" was to paint the Mona Lisa in the mirror. Her other entry was a copy of Edvard Munch's "The Scream." By inserting an outstretched hand with a bouquet of flowers, Kitty was able to impart an entirely different meaning to the astonished face-from a look of horror to an expression of surprise and delight.

It's this kind of serious art with a touch of humor that reveals much of the artist herself. Everything from her subjects to her style and even her chosen medium (oil) mirrors her personality, highlighting her intelligence and unique perspective, while representing the one area of her life over which she can exert a degree of control. You see, painting doesn't come easy for Kitty. Her artistry is a gift-the physical act of creating it, an intense labor of love and determination.

The course of Kitty's life was dramatically altered twenty-three years ago, when at age 16, she took her last walk on the beach. On a sunny September day, headed for home following an afternoon of fun in the sun, one mistake left a teen driver dead. Three others walked away with minor injuries, but Kitty was not so fortunate. With a broken neck, she spent the next seven months in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities, learning to cope with unimaginable physical and emotional losses and the virtual death of her dreams. (In addition to the loss of use of her legs, she has limited use of her upper extremities and no control of her hands.)
Confined to a wheelchair, wrapped in a shroud of guilt, depression and shame, for the next ten years, Kitty set aside her artistic ambitions. But then something miraculous happened. Awakened by an invitation to a local ceramic studio, her inner artist began to stir. With a powerful desire and a little ingenuity-using a brush inserted in a special splint-she developed a technique by which she could pursue her art on pottery.
After a few years, frustrated with the unpredictable results of the firing process, she decided to get serious. With the encouragement of friends, she joined the Art League of Hilton Head, where she took painting lessons from several influential area artists, including George Pinckney and Joyce Nagel. But it was Ted Jordan's "Paint like the Masters" class that ultimately inspired her style and confidence.

Besides rediscovering her passion for painting, Kitty is finding out who she really is. At last, she's putting away her shame and learning to love herself. No longer defined by her disability, with a newfound sense of accomplishment and self worth, she's well on the way to becoming the woman and artist she was meant to be. It's a new sensation!

Hometown: Duluth, Minnesota; on Hilton Head Island since 1982 Describes herself as: cautious and somewhat introverted Enjoys: reading, surfing the web, watching documentaries, sci-fi, and cartoons People might be surprised to know: she's not all sugar and spice; she has a stubborn streak and a proclivity for sarcasm She's passionate about: animals, particularly horses Words to live by when the chips are down: "If this is the worst thing that happens to you today, count yourself lucky."