Drawing Strength: Artist creates at prolific rate, despite deteriorating health
Continuing her decade-long battle with meningitis, Jordie Hudson declares ‘I will never stop making art’
This story will break your heart.
It will leave you contemplating mortality and the meaning of suffering. It will plumb the depths of the human spirit and the parent/child bond. And it will ask, a number of times, that age-old question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
But Jordie Hudson doesn’t care about that schmaltzy nonsense. Though she is in what seems to be the closing chapter of a decade-long battle with meningitis, though her head and face are plagued with tumors, though her body has been ravaged by heavy doses of medication, she doesn’t want your pity. What Hudson wants you to know is that, in the throes of her illness, she is still making art. Big, bold, powerful art.
It’s just after 9 on a chilly November morning. The sky is clear and blue, and Lincolnville, that sleepy little St. Augustine village, is pleasantly silent. A blue jay squawks, a scooter zips by, but it’s mostly silent.
In the kitchen of a white two-story in the heart of Lincolnville, a different kind of silence falls. There, in a chair in her mom’s knickknack-laden kitchen, slumps Hudson. Eyes narrowed, shoulders hunched, head drooping, she lists to her right as she does her best to compose a few sentences. An army of prescription bottles litters a small table, their contents only partially responsible for her languorous state.
Hudson’s mother, diminutive but wide-eyed and energetic Judy Allen, says, “Jordie didn’t sleep at all last night.” She says Hudson fell a half-dozen times — probably more — during the restless evening.
Hudson is struggling to piece together her past, half-slurring, half-mumbling about her time at art schools in North Carolina and Boston. It’s a fuzzy chronology, a crazy-quilt of anecdotes about her devoted yet sexually abusive father, her gay and physically abusive art instructor, her careers as performance artist, model and visual artist. Then, as if a shroud has been lifted, she says with clarity and strength, “You can be as handicapped as you wanna be, and you can still draw like a motherfucker.”
And there, in one direct statement, resides the soul of Jordie Hudson.