Unconditional Love: Aunt Marian’s Handwork

Created and Signed by Marian Rutgers Cogsdill 1986; Image © Cat Rutgers 2018There are many types of art that often go unsung. Personal work that transcends the ordinary – through skill, discipline, devotion, and utterly generous creativity. My Aunt Marian’s ornaments, for example. Every year, Marian Ruth Rutgers Cogsdill created an artwork for every member of the family, dozens, for decades. They were each special, and all amazing.

My holiday observances are tempered by ambivalence, including that it’s a kind of weird thing to bring an entire tree into your home. So it doesn’t happen annually, but in 2016, I wanted the ritual, and especially, the scent of pine. It was an odd but beautiful tree: the top was cut off, so it was a bit short, yet round and full and lovely. I carried this heavy thing home on my shoulder, crossing Coney Island Avenue, trudging to Buckingham, up the front steps, and into my apartment.

It was delightful unpacking my carefully stored ornaments, sorting through the boxes, unraveling tissue and bubble wrap to uncover these treasures, each with a history marking loved ones and moments. Took a few days to place the lights and decorations. It looked marvelous.

As for the story behind this post’s title? I always loved to talk with Aunt Marian, and one day, telling her how wonderful it is having a niece I really enjoy knowing, she smiled and said, “Yes. Everyone needs to have an aunt who offers unconditional love.” At egotistical first take, I thought she was referring to my relationship with my sister’s daughter, the lovely Megan. Then I noticed Marian smile a second smile and realized she was saying
I love you unconditionally. How awesome is that?

Ribbon, Pearl Beads and Needlework; Image © Catherine Rutgers 2018

Kitten with Mittens by Marian Cogsdill; Image © Cat Rutgers 2018

Gold-thread stars and yarn (detail); Image © Cat Rutgers 2018

Jingle Bells from the Back; Image © Catherine Rutgers 2018

Notes and Glass Beads by Marian Cogsdill 1998; Image © Cat Rutgers 2018

Jingle Bells Detail by Marian Cogsdill; Image © Cat Rutgers 2018

Customized Santa; Image © Catherine Rutgers 2018

Original art by Marian Cogsdill (b. 1923 – d. 2007)
Unconditional Love © Catherine Rutgers 2018

About CatRutgers4Art

Original art by Catherine Rutgers, with musings on the media and the methods. Founded in 2010. “I believe in magic moments. Am not afraid to be sentimental, and adore a tweaked cliché. Two of my favorite pastimes are watching paint dry and observing green tendrils unfold.”
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6 Responses to Unconditional Love: Aunt Marian’s Handwork

  1. Martha S Brown says:

    Wonderful blog — thanks for sharing the pictures.

  2. Anonymous says:


  3. Carol W says:

    A moving tribute. I covet the one with the cat wearing mittens!

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