June Minix didn't intend to be an artist. When her husband Dan, a painter, joined the Bastrop Art Guild, he paid for a membership for June, too. She found herself an artist without a medium or confidence in her ability to find one. Moreover, this tall woman with an engaging smile and curly hair faced an adversary that would work against artistic ambitions.
That enemy was CIDP or chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy. CIDP is a rare disorder of the nervous system that results from the immune system attacking the nerves' protective myelin sheath. It could, over time, result in weakness and loss of feeling in her arms and legs.
As do many of the people whom I find most inspirational, the everyday heroes we see among us, Minix decided that she would forge forward. She sought a medium that might bring others joy, peace, and inspiration. She aspired to resurrect poignant memories or create meaningful vistas that might always occupy a place in a client's home.
Achieving Her Aesthetic Goals and Benefiting Others
After a stepdaughter gifted her with a diorama or art box, Minix studied the three-D depiction of an Italian casa with a red tile roof, the casa set among a landscape of pathways and trees. She had discovered how she might accomplish her goals to benefit others. She builds dioramas in sizes appropriate for display in a home or office. During a 2018 show of her dioramas at the Lost Pines Art Center, Minix's descriptions of the scenes, the genesis of the pieces, and her own struggles to find just the right material proved as meaningful and intriguing as the boxes themselves.
In a recent interview, her smile widened as she talked about her search to find or create the needed materials for her art boxes, a search she sometimes finds humorous. She mentioned popsicle sticks, unfurled beer cans, and other found objects used to recreate the beloved home of a long-married couple when disability forced them to move to a care facility. Similar materials were employed to replicate a favorite one-room schoolhouse for a sibling retiring from a teaching career. When introduced to a new acquaintance at a meeting, she was thrilled when that person recognized her name, connecting it with her art. However, she's received other notice. During the filming of the movie Bernie in Bastrop, actress Shirley Maclaine stopped by an Art Guild booth and admired Minix's work.
Minix prefers that the world sees her as an artist, a good friend, and a capable person, so she doesn't talk much about her personal struggles. However, CIDP has been gaining ground. Recently her efforts are accompanied by weakened muscles and a tremor that make the precise placement of a structural element difficult, but she admits to those difficulties only under questioning. She would rather talk about her efforts to create the illusion of a three-dimensional, 2.5-acre landscape in a shallow art box. Her beautiful eyes light up when she talks about perspective and the vanishing point, a key element in creating that three-dimensional look.
Just as happened when her husband first signed her up with the Art Guild, she finds herself on the cusp of another decision. Continuing to build her dioramas might soon require occasional assistance from others as she fights the effects of CIPD. Asking for help means inconveniencing others, and she prefers being the one who helps. Her bigger struggle might be in accepting her worth as an artist in a medium that doesn't receive as much recognition as some others.
Throughout our lives we find ourselves at turning points when we must make difficult decisions. Minix has already demonstrated that she will choose the creative path, the one in keeping with her goals. I have no doubt she will do so again, whatever decision she makes.
Examples of Minix's dioramas as well as descriptions of the genesis of some of them can be found at her website.