To Frederick artist and writer Geraldine Lloyd, everyone is in some form of recovery.
She considers herself to be recovering from three different circumstances: decades of heavy smoking and drinking, cancer in both her throat and lungs, and codependency in relationships.
Lloyd is displaying all of this in her new art show “Recovering Outloud: The Outsider Art of Geraldine Lloyd 1989-2019,” which is slated for display Sept. 7 through Oct. 2 at the Mary Condon Hodgson Art Gallery at Frederick Community College.
She said she specifically wanted to have the show in September for National Recovery Month.
Lloyd, who lost her voice as a result of throat cancer and speaks electronically, calls the show a 30-year retrospective made up primarily of paintings, some of which will be for sale.
She said she has always been interested in art and hoped to study it in college, but ended up choosing to get married and have children at a young age. This is something she does not regret as she said she has “two amazing children.”
“And with my temperament in the 60s, if I had gotten into art school, I’d be waving flags and burning bras,” Lloyd said.
She was ultimately married and divorced twice, but said it was that second divorce in 1989 that put her on the track to where she is today. She was looking at spending the rest of her life as an independent woman and said what inspired her the most was something that was largely considered a hobby.
“What would I do with my life?” said Lloyd, who was also an empty-nester. “That was the turning point.”
Lloyd was diagnosed with throat cancer and lost her voice two years later, which she called “inherit(ing) a tragic consequence” of growing up on a North Carolina tobacco farm. Both of her parents died of smoking related diseases, and Lloyd has since done regular talks at schools about the dangers of tobacco addiction. She also filmed a documentary about it called “Dream Stealers.”
After the loss of her voice, Lloyd said she was inspired by the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo to relinquish limitations and pursue what she knew best: herself.
“I learned that I was not the worst thing that happened to me. It was the emergence of an identity I never really experienced or claimed,” she said.
Lloyd started taking community college art courses, which is one reason why she said she wanted her show to be at FCC. She had a gallery in Key West, Florida, and considers one of her greatest achievements to be a transformed vintage Mercedes Benz, which she sold to Daimler Chrysler in Germany. She said she was given the vehicle to use as a project while she was going through cancer treatments.
“It was old and beaten up. It looked just like me,” she said.
Despite all she has been through, Lloyd said she considers herself to be in a rare position for many women from her generation. She said women are generally taught to be selfless and to compromise their core values, taste, preferences and choices. There’s also a notion that women should suffer in silence and always appear happy, Lloyd said.
“Very few women are fortunate enough to be able to live the way I am able to live,” she said, in reference to being in her 70s and free enough and well enough to contribute to the community.
She hopes her show highlights that you can live as a creative person without self medicating. This does not just mean refraining from drugs or alcohol. Lloyd said society has an addictive system emphasizing comfort and escape through means like spending, eating and relying on others.
“We’re all seeking comfort outside of ourselves,” she said. “...We are all recovering but we have a hope of what we can do with what’s given to us.”