I still have a card she gave me when we first met, almost 10 years ago, pressed in the pages of my then-current journal. The front boasted a photo of a chicken, and inside, in penmanship that would become as familiar and recognizable as any I could know (she is a generous letter writer and fellow fan of using the USPS), an e.e. cummings poem that remains one of my favorites to this day. She appeared in my college life as Hurricane Katrina devastated her city, and halted her Louisiana art school education. Many colleges around the US were opening doors to displaced students, and my beloved Mass Art got her:
The amazing Bear Hebert, last name pronounced the French way, so her name is absurdly fun to say.
When she changed her first name to Bear for numerous reasons, one of them was for the sheer delight of it. So, this is my Bear, who first inspired my creative growth during long nights of darkroom printing, and intense discussions of photography during class and afterwards, explaining passionately and eloquently about the many feelings evoked within her by any given piece of art. Together we attended a big art opening at the MFA, snuck in by a favorite professor, and stood in awe before six and eight foot photographs. We simultaneously cried at the encompassed beauty and destruction in these particular photos, and also were giddy with excitement to be part of such a night in the world of fine art photography.
Over the years, I have turned to her to help process - and also to gain wisdom about- so many of my most important things: spiritual musings, the struggle to create art in the face of fear and doubt, grieving the deaths of loved ones, and the loss of friendships ended, growing up poor and continuing to have a complex relationship to money, the pain and magic of romantic relationships, the stresses of parenting, and somehow, miraculously, continuing to love and frequently find joy though it all.
Today, she continues to create: stunning costumes for theater productions, essential connections and safe spaces for LGBTQ youth, nourishing and inspired food for those around her, healthy minds and bodies as a yoga teacher, and a community of big, deep, friendships.
Thank you for all of the things, Bear - this was such an honor.