1987, Karen Yank


Karen Yank

Agnes Martin and I met during our Skowhegan summer. We formed our friendship over swimming, of all things. She enjoyed watching my dedication and focus as I swam back and forth from the Skowhegan beach to the buoy each day, passing her cottage with each lap. Agnes was once a competitive swimmer and I think she was continuing her mental exercises through watching me swim.

The single most important tool she taught us that summer was to meditate before ever working on your art: with a quiet mind true inspiration can be allowed in. She believed this to be the most important tool in making art. Once it is achieved other problems such as showing, galleries, and finances will all fall into place on their own without the artist’s meddling. As Agnes always reminded me, “Karen, you are an unfolding flower.”

One of Agnes’ lines of advice that became famous that summer was, “If you can not stop thinking about going to the beach while working, you must take time off and go to the beach. Deal with your distraction and then you will be able to work in your studio once again.” Needless to say, the beach was a very popular place that summer!

Agnes Martin was a wise soul and a generous knowledgeable teacher. She showed all of us how to be content with the smallest of life’s pleasures and to be present in every moment.