As I listened to Wendy Eddleman at Flashbacks Espresso Café in Byram, I couldn't help thinking of those serene beauties often seen in Renaissance paintings. Not only is the 29-year-old Jackson native outwardly lovely, but an evident inner strength and capability makes her glow.
Eddleman, a 1993 graduate of Murrah and APAC's Visual Arts program, comes from creative stock—her mother sews, her dad etches glass, her grandfather works with wood and plays violin. Eddleman attended Southern Miss where she fell in love with print-making. But getting married to fellow artist Rob Cooper—they grew up five blocks apart but didn't know each other until years later—and having a daughter, 3-year-old Lucie Wren, slowed down thoughts of a career. "That's not a bad thing at all," Eddleman explained, "because I found the Wolfe Studio."
She began painting ceramic birds for the well-known mother-daughter-artist-duo Mildred and Bebe Wolfe in August 2001. Serendipitously, she's spent a year collaborating with Mildred, 91, on reprinting wood blocks Wolfe had made in the '60s and '70s. "Long-time customers would come in and say, 'I've got one of those at home.' They'd bring them in for us to see."
Eddleman spends as much time as she can creating fused-glass pieces at the Pearl River Glass Studio. Jewelry is one of her passions; she held out the red disc she wore around her neck. "It's a small molded glass Buddha head," she explained. She'd also made her dangling earrings. Some of her jewelry is at Treehouse in Fondren, and she often shows with friends at private homes in Hattiesburg as well as at shows held at the Pearl River studio.
About motherhood, Eddleman said, "It's a gift, and as with all great gifts, it comes with the attached responsibility and occasional sacrifice." Balancing creativity with family takes effort; she finds it difficult to "let go of the all-consuming selfish monster that is my creativity." A lot of art is contemplation, and time for it sort of disappears when you become a mother, she said.
Lucie has forced her mom to find the self-discipline to schedule. She and her husband each have one night a week to themselves—Eddleman uses this time to read, play the guitar, sew, visit friends, be quiet alone and experience the freedom one often needs as the parent of a young child.
Eddleman's business card states that she is a "Jill of many skills." That's one way to express this young mother's many talents—Renaissance woman is another.