3 minute read

Two women, one shared passion

This article is about two artists from different eras and with divergent backgrounds. One has had her career uplifted by her consistent drive and work ethic. The other is an accomplished woman and professional artist in the early stages of dementia who has broken through barriers.

roN fortier


Enter Catherine Carter, one of the hardest-working artists in the South Coast, by my estimation. Carter began her career as a student at the School of Fashion Design in Boston. After pursuing a career in fashion, she received her MFA in painting from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Catherine Carter has taught art for more than 25 years at Lasell University, the Community College of Rhode Island, and Framingham State University. Add to that her experiences as an instructor at art museums in Attleboro, Framingham, New Bedford, Newport, and Worcester. In 2018, she opened her school of art at the Hatch Street Studios in New Bedford. She offered realistic drawing classes to children including mixed-media classes and workshops for adults as well. 2022 represents a new start for her. Although catherine will continue to offer classes, her studio work remains her primary direction. For an artist, the creative process, “specifically, artistic inspiration and how that translates directly into such decisions as color choices, materials” is what it really is all about, Carter says. Carter’s new opportunity allows her “to focus on creating my artwork,” she says. “I have been fortunate enough to be represented by an art consultant who places a lot of work in residential homes.” Art consultants work with interior designers and others working in the private or public sector to secure artwork and often commissioning artists to produce specific works for their clients.

CatheriNe Carter offers art Classes at hatCh street studios iN NeW bedford

viviaN leWis (left) With her artWork

Our other artist, Vivian Lewis, is in her early 90s. She is a Swain School of Design graduate. Lewis was a graphic designer for Jordan Marsh, and later, the art director for the Bradlees Department Stores chain. Her late sister, Janice Fernandes, was a self-taught artist. She was a Kinyon-Campbell graduate and an executive secretary at the Goodyear Tire plant in New Bedford. More than that, she was also a crafter, painter, an avid bird carver, and, like her sister, a scrimshander. When Fernandes passed, it fell to Heidi Lewis, Vivian’s daughter, to clear out her things from the home the two sisters shared. Vivian and Janice’s home held more than just seventy-plus years of memories. It held more than two lifetimes’ worth of art – more than either sister could ever sell. There were paintings in Vivian’s studio, in the eaves of the house, in the basement, and hung on the walls throughout their very stately home. Heidi has been left with the same gargantuan task that other friends and family members of artists, known and unknown, and those successful and otherwise have faced: to deal with the unsold and unfinished paintings whose destiny may be a dumpster. Heidi Lewis says her mother, who is battling against growing dementia, is always entreating her, “we must have more yellow.” She believes her mother, like Vincent Van Gogh before her, understands yellow to evoke hope. Hope has always sustained Vivian Lewis. The life of any artist is filled with struggle, and that was especially true for her as a woman of color living through the last century. Today, Lewis lives with her daughter in Philadelphia because she can no longer live alone. Heidi says, “There are good days and days that are not so good.” And yet, there must be more yellow! Learn more about Cartherine Carter’s school catherinecarterpainting.com or see her work at catherinecarterfineart.com. For more information about Vivian Lewis, contact the author at rfortier@umassd.edu.

roN fortier is an international artist who emigrated to the Silver Coast of mainland Portugal where he lived, painted, and exhibited.

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