Millicent Gappell is a goddess. In fact, she’s many goddesses. Every time she starts a new mosaic sculpture, each based on a god or goddess of Greek and Roman mythology, she takes on the traits of that particular being. During our conversation she spoke several times of Artemis, the goddess of the hunt. And Ms. Gappell is, if not a huntress, outfitted with bow and arrow, then certainly a seeker of artistic fulfillment and the passion of that pursuit. And she is living testament that you can change or add to the direction of your life – at any age. She asks, “If not now – then when?”
At the age of 70+ the artist has led many lives, starting at a very early age as a pianist. Music was part of her family, her gift and her first language, but one that was virtually shelved after marriage, child rearing and caring for her aging parents. It was not until recent years when she “gave herself permission” to pursue an artistic endeavor for “sheer pleasure,” that the mythological artwork came to be. By her own admission, the art now flies out of her. It takes hold, inhabiting her thoughts and waking her in the middle of the night. Now, after several years of creating enchanting art out of found pieces and broken glass, Gappell has a large museum-quality collection, each with its own palette and unique and stunning presence. Even as she continues to produce her fantastic sculptures, she contends that the finished product is not important. It’s the spiritual underpinning that is key. It’s also the freedom to do something solely for yourself without worrying about criticism, constructive or otherwise. And each time she completes a day of work, she says thank you to the powers that be.
What I took away from our conversation was that Millicent Gappell is a woman who’s found great joy and fulfillment in expressing herself artistically. She also recognizes that women must taking care of their own creative lives, listen to our singular voices and respond to our passions. When I asked her what might be next on her wish list, she thought for just a few moments and said “I could co-write a screenplay – and I think it would be better than most of what’s out there.” Based on her track record, I have no doubt.
If you’d like to check out her glass artwork, you can visit www.millicentgappell.com. Her book The Art of Myths and Music (Sutton Hart Press, October 2011) features glossy color photos of her glass sculptures plus a CD of musical pieces (played by Millicent herself) chosen to perfectly complement each piece of art.