To Kiss The Spirits: Now This Is What It Is Really Like 1993

A nighttime scene divided by a bright central staircase. A figure ascends while her raised arms transform into wings.

Hollis Sigler, To Kiss the Spirits: Now This Is What It Is Really Like, 1993; Promised Gift of Steven Scott, Baltimore, in memory of the artist

Hollis Sigler favored subjects related to women’s experiences of love, family, and the domestic sphere. She often conjured up intimate interiors, suburban backyards, or vacation hideaways in which household objects or a shadow figure she called “the Lady” serve as stand-ins for real people. In the last fifteen years of her career, Sigler focused on the subject of breast cancer, which she battled until her death in 2001 at age 53. This painting may represent Sigler’s hopeful vision of the culmination of life’s physical, psychological, and emotional journey. As a figure (or figures)  ascends a central staircase bathed in celestial light, her raised arms transform into wings.

Sigler adopted her appealing faux naïf painting style (one that identifies with the naïve or untrained approach practiced by self-trained artists) partly as a means to encourage viewers to engage with the emotional content of her works. Much of Sigler’s art centering on cancer focuses on the statistics, treatments, fears, rages, and uncertainties surrounding the disease. To Kiss the Spirits seems to offers a lyrical, uplifting vision of a woman who achieves a long-awaited state of grace.

National Museum of Women in the Arts