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In a New Jersey State of Mind

Everybody has a spirit home, where your soul feels it lives. Mine is on the East Coast, still in New Jersey, where I grew up. I have lived on the West Coast and am now centered in the Midwest. I have written about this before. Gradually, I am accepting that I am living in the Midwest. I must even say that I’m from here, from time to time but I feel in my heart as though I am from New Jersey; South Jersey to be specific.
The East Coast has a hold over me. I love the Atlantic, and yes, Atlantic City and the Jersey Shore as well. In high school I sang in various school choirs and had the opportunity to travel the coast to sing. The East Coast is where I spent my childhood and those places flood my head with memories, coloring my art and writing.
For us, there is a profound difference between north and south Jersey, just as there is here between southern Illinois and northern Illinois, home to Chicago. Southern Illinois has a strong agricultural base and is largely rural. Northern Illinois is where you find the Greater Chicago area and its many suburbs. We need it all to survive.
North Jersey has some wonderful patches of green, rich suburbs and shores of its own. It remains seen by the world however, as the New Jersey everybody knows. In that light, it is industrial and gritty, as in the Sopranos. I know the diversity of the state and would have to say that just about everything you hear about New Jersey from afar is more myth based than factual. Rather than describing it, those myth-makers would be better served talking about the Jersey Devil. He is more real than what is said a lot of the time. South Jersey, my spirit’s home, is where I grew up. It is also home to the Jersey Devil. Largely rural, it is  increasingly becoming suburban and does have urban pockets. Where I grew up was very rural and relatively close to the shore, as part of the Pine Barrens.
 I created this painting (shown below), on un-stretched canvas, thinking about place and where I grew up. It is oil on canvas over acrylic and mixed media. The canvas has been distressed, worked, stuffed, cut and torn. It is my representation of the East Coast, and my particular little spot on that coast, which I came to know, love, and call home. 

                                                     "Paradise Lakes" by Stephanie Rose Bird

This second painting, I created was made in the same way, as the one previously shown. It is a representation of North Jersey from an aerial perspective; it is untitled:

                                                         Untitled by Stephanie Rose Bird

E is for East Coast—A to Z April Blogger’s Challenge


  1. I've never been to New jersey, but I would love to go there one day. And I really like your second painting. :)

  2. Chrys, thank you! You should visit Jersey. The different NJ shores are not like that horrible television show. Also my first painting looks wonky because it is turned right side up. I'm not always so good with tech but will figure it out and post it correctly soon. I appreciate the compliment and that you stopped by.

  3. It's horrible to feel homesick. :( I felt that way for a couple years after moving from Maine to the midwest, but I made peace with it. If it's making you miserable to be away, I hope a move is in your near future. Jersey is a cool state. I can see why you miss it.

  4. Katherine Jeanne, thanks for your encouragement. I didn't mean to sound sad. Chicago certainly has its charms, the people here being chief among those charms, plus my family is now rooted here. I do hope some day to get a summer cottage by the sea at the shore. That would be the best of all worlds.


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