By Alisha Siebers, Executive Director, Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center
To welcome Deborah Curtis back to South Kalamazoo County after being away since 2004, the Schoolcraft Community Library is hosting an exhibit of her artwork.
When Deb was 3 years old, she lived in the apartment above what used to be the Vicksburg Locker Plant on the corner of East Prairie and Kalamazoo. She remembers watching her mother, Shirley J. Curtis, create a pen and ink drawing of a woman in a mink stole. She was mesmerized as she watched her mother’s tiny strokes make the image come to life. Her mother was her earliest and greatest influence in her life – she inspired, encouraged, and supported her in her artistic endeavors. Her father was a painter too, one of the best autobody painters at Checker Motors. He later worked at The Mill and eventually retired from Houghton Manufacturing.
Deb’s upbringing in Southern Kalamazoo County fueled her love of nature; you can see her passion for lake views, wildlife, and rural landscapes in her work. She was raised on several lakes in Portage and, as a teenager, she lived on small farms in the Vicksburg area.
In addition to her love of family and nature, Deborah’s work is influenced by her quest to find meaning and spirituality as she navigated her way through deep tragedies. When she was in her 30’s, Deb lived with her three children and her husband, Mark Kubicek, on a small farm in Fulton. He was killed in an auto accident on his way to work on Portage Road in 1989. Later, after she married her second husband, Rich, and moved with him to Sun City West, Arizona, they discovered that he had a degenerative brain disease. Deborah took care of him for 21 years until he passed away in Holland a year ago. Today, she has finally returned to where she grew up and is appreciating lake life at Klines Resort.
Deborah acknowledges that tragedy brought her to where she is today in her artistic and spiritual journey: “It makes you dig really deep. You need to find out who you are, what really matters, and how to hold on during times you never dreamed you’d experience.” Curtis accesses spiritual peace in nature. She explains, “When out in nature exploring and experiencing, I feel closest to God. I’m not distracted by manmade things or human interaction. It’s just God’s creations and me.” Her hope as an artist is that she can serve as a humble tool to uplift people. To learn more about her journey or to view her work, you can visit her website DeborahCurtis-Designs.com
Deborah Curtis’ work will be on display at the Schoolcraft Community Library until March 18. On Wednesday, March 2, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., you can meet her in person at the Library Open House.