In All the In Between: My Story of Agnes, visual artist Laurie Brownell McIntosh uses more than 70 painted panels to tell the cradle-to-grave story of her late mother, Agnes Smith Brownell. A scientist, artist, doctor’s wife, and mother, Agnes approached life with a kind of candor and pragmatism that left little room for sentimentality. From telling her thirsty and whining children to “swallow their spit,” to tending to her dying husband, to orchestrating a life of ritual in her widowhood, Agnes was a force to be reckoned with, eliciting emotions from her youngest daughter that were equal parts fear, reverence, and love.
All the In Between: My Story of Agnes is a eulogy, a memorial, a work of art, and a kind of tribute that validates everything between the first and last breaths of a life well lived. There are no heroes or heroines in the story; no parables; no broken hearts or drama; no secrets to take to the grave. Yet the story is extraordinary in its simplicity. By capturing images of her mother’s life through the intimacy of her own interpretations, McIntosh allows her readers a rare kind of insight to the life of a stranger made close and personal for us through the nuance of her daughter’s familiarity. Yet, she does so without folly. Using paintings that are honest and straight forward, yet beautiful and tender, she tells the tale of her mother’s life with the kind of dignity that would have made Agnes proud.