To Thine Own Self Be True

When Kristina Joyce was a little girl, she told her father that she wanted to become an artist when she grew up.  “Better a doctor,” her surgeon father told her, “than a starving artist.”

Kristina’s father was a pediatric surgeon who specialized in resecting tumors in children.  Her mother was a nurse.  Her grandfather and grandmother were both physicians.  They established the first hospital in Flagler, Colorado.  From the time she was a child, the family expected that she would pursue a career in medicine.  But Kristina had other dreams.

In 1986, Kristina became the first woman to attempt a series of scuba dives into the depths of Walden Pond.  She was interested in documenting the underwater flora and fauna of Walden, and wrote to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to request permission to make the dives.  As a result of her studies, she was able to document a number of freshwater plants like nitella and quillwort and several species of fish that inhabit the depths of Walden.

I marveled at Kristina’s slide show, “Underwater Walden,” which she presented at the Concord Free Public Library, as well as her artwork in the exhibit “All the Earth is Seashore,” currently on display in that institution through September, 2010.

At this year’s annual gathering of the Thoreau Society, Kristina accompanied us on one of the early morning nature walks to the cliffs above Fairhaven Bay on the Sudbury River.  She told me about the art classes that she’s offered to the children of local residents in her home over the decades.  A number of her students have gone on to careers as professional artists.  Kristina described the joy she derives from teaching young people to express themselves artistically.

If you happen to be in the Concord area this summer, make it a point to stop by the Concord Free Library to see Kristina Joyce’s exhibit.  Her drawings and calligraphy are exquisite.

If she had listened to her father, perhaps she might have followed in Frank Netter’s footsteps as the next medical illustrator par excellence.  Had she pursued that path, undoubtedly she would have realized a handsome income.  As it is, she contents herself with her work, knowing that she’s nurtured the artistic lives of her students.

I can’t help thinking that her father would have been pleased at the way things worked out.


One comment on “To Thine Own Self Be True

  1. DJE says:

    “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men” (and women!) Thanks for introducing us to another fascinating person. Why is it that we value medicine so much more than say, being an artist?

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