Remembering a Friend with Flannery O’Connor

On a sad note, my friend Alice Burress of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina passed away on Friday, September 5, 2014, after a battle of many years with the disease, lupus. Alice was a highly respected architect, an artist, a formidable tennis player, a reader and thinker of great insight, a wonderful wife, mother and friend, and a tough cookie in the face of a ruthless disease.

 Alice photo AThis was Alice at one of her favorite events,the Family Circle Cup Tennis Tournament,  in 2005.

 

Alice and I were in a book group together, and it was after Alice reintroduced our group to the fiction of Flannery O’Connor in 2009 that I began a four-year art project interpreting O’Connor fiction. Alice helped establish a lupus support group for the greater Charleston area, and in 2012 she and I participated with the music group, The Harrows, and others in a lupus fundraiser at the Tin Roof, a popular rock music venue in Charleston. Art and music related to Flannery O’Connor (who also suffered from lupus) provided the entertainment that night. This was a group who knew how to balance the serious in life with the lighter side,  and how to make others feel at ease. And that sums up my memory of Alice Burress.  I will miss her deeply but will always remember her wit and humor.

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About Lillian-Trettin

I grew up in the Appalachian "Bible Belt" of East Tennessee in the southern United States, listening to banjo music and gospel lyrics as well as the Beatles. As a kid, I was curious about religious rituals like speaking in tongues and snake handling but resistant to the fundamentalist thinking they involved. Flannery O'Connor's tales of religious fanatics, con men, bigots, and the spiritually bereft or ambivalent resonate for me. Despite having traveled widely and lived in other places, I am (as so many Southerners claim to be) permanently "South haunted." I returned to making art full time in 2011, following a career as a teacher, researcher, and consultant and after raising two sons. I’m convinced the delay enriched rather than impeded my growth as an artist.
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