Connie Stout’s hands and heart are one; she creates simply because her heart beats.
Her work is an extension of her love and caring for others.
“It wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I acknowledged to myself that I was a creative person and had a deep need to create beauty and healing by using my hands and imagination to create things,” she said.
Stout is a native Texan who was creative in her youth. “As one of seven children in a family where there was never enough to go around, I learned at an early age to sew my own clothes and decorate the room I shared with my sisters with found objects. I learned crafts and a love of gardening from my grandmother,” she said.
In high school, she focused on science and math and then went on to nursing school and has been a nurse for the past 35 years. Currently a critical care nurse at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, Stout uses art to care for others as well as herself.
“My ability to be creative, intuitive and imaginative has provided respite and healing from the storm of emotion and intensity that is a large part of my daily experience in my work environment.”
About four years ago, Stout’s sister was visiting from Texas and they did a mosaic project together. Stout fell in love with the tactile medium.
“I called around to find a teacher and was told ‘it’s not rocket science. Get a book. You can do it,’ ” Stout said, “Now I have a full library of books on fused glass, mosaic and knitting.” She also has a studio in her South Hill home with shelves and rolling carts stacked with bins and jars of tile, glass, beads, fossils and charms. Her arsenal of tools includes different types of saws, kilns, and a multitude of sharp objects. Her substrates (surfaces on which she creates her mosaics) include medium-density fiberboard that she cuts into hands, eyes, hearts and feminine figures.
Pulling up to her home, a visitor is immediately clued in to the fact that an artist lives within; the trim to the garage door is adorned with interesting pieces in many shades of blue and a bedazzled eye gazes down from above. The frame of the side door leading into the kitchen is also decorated with tiles, pieces of glass, beads, eyes and words such as “nest,” “heal,” and “create.” Inside the home, mosaics hang on the walls as mirrors and symbols. One mirror that a customer will pick up is a family tree with photos adhered to clear cabochons and carefully placed within the branches.
Stout’s hands, with small cuts on the fingertips, glue stuck under the fingernails, and grout-stained cuticles, create beauty from fragmented bits. “It is a process of healing and reintegration of what has been broken, and an internal knowing that something new and better can be reborn from the wreckage.”