Anita E. Bates is a visual artist and educator. And in her case, art truly does imitate life. What she creates is a reflection of what she sees, thinks, feels on any given day when the inspiration strikes. She is a proud, beautiful woman who has much to convey with the stroke of a brush, through an abstract color palette or vintage photos plastered in some way to canvas. She draws, she paints, she writes. A creator who does more than influence young lives. She changes them, surely, with passion and intelligence and sheer, unadulterated artistry. The love she has for what she does—both the art and the teaching of it—is palpable.
To an onlooker, she’s done everything right: graduated high school, scholarship to college, a few degrees, great husband, fulfilling job. You’d look at her and think she has, and has had a near perfect life. But like the most of us, she hasn’t. Though she wears a grand smile, a bright spirit and a sense of personal style inherited from both mother and grandmother respectively, things have been far from perfect.
Anita has, more than she would probably care to admit, lived in her pain body. She’s allowed that pain to foster relationships, both platonic and romantic, that have been unhealthy and provided little to no nourishment for her soul.
When one makes an attempt at healing, or rather, alleviating pain and shedding one’s pain body, intense personal research must be conducted. You have to be stealthy. You have to go in, as your other self, the objective, fearless you that reveals itself when times like these deem it necessary. You’ve got to be an investigator, find the root, then pluck it. You have to locate the source of the pain by peeling back layers, admitting certain truths and being courageous enough to confront them. And as it pertains to Anita Bates, one prime issue that begged confrontation was the relationship, or lack thereof, with her father.
It’s been said that little girls with no positive male influence, who have little no interactions with their fathers are doomed to spend the rest of their lives looking for him in unseemly interactions with others, men in particular. Women like Anita Bates know intimately, how true a statement it is.
One of the things that I lament, however, is that I lacked a real and healthy relationship with my father. For years it bothered me so deeply that in hindsight, I realize it affected many interactions with people in my past life. I know now that some of the unhealthy relationships that I have had were a result of that longing and the poor self image that I once had of myself. This not only references romantic relationships; I have had friendships that were toxic because I felt that in someway I needed to be in that person’s presence or circle.
Fortunately, there is a force and power at the center of our lives that knows exactly what we need and precisely when we should receive it.
Enter Ken Bates.
He was different from all the others. He saw her in a way the others did not. He really saw her, and actually liked what he saw. She to him was more than just fun, quirky, party-time, artsy Anita. She was his “old same”. She was the one he had unintentionally been waiting for. He knew she needed something that he could generously give. He saw behind the fun, past the paint splashed across many mediums and into the soul of the woman that would be his wife for the last 19 years.
… my husband understood my pain and disappointment and that is why he strives to be a good example of a man. He may not always agree with me or even like where I’m coming sometimes but he has always shown me respect. I can trust him with my life and there is never any reason for me to feel insecure or afraid in his presence.
He helped her find the root, and together they work hard at plucking away the source of Anita’s pain.
At this point in my life I truly understand the meaning of love and selflessness. I understand that it’s really simple—if someone wants you in their life, you don’t have to push. They will invite you in or seek you out. Above all, if a person is your friend or claims to care about you, they have your best interest at heart.
A keen relationship with the creator helps too. We each have something inside that speaks and guides. There is a higher self that connects to a divine power when we will it. And that connection, should we choose to listen or pay attention to it, will take us places and show us things.
I can say, that I feel extremely in tune with my creator. God is everywhere and in everything. My spirituality helps guide my moral compass and calm me. I have learned to listen and become more patient. One of the ways my spirituality has been enhanced is by the gift of wisdom; I am the recipient of several gifts but wisdom is the one that governs all others. Wisdom is what keeps me from harm and from harmful people. I’m more in tune than ever with knowing whether something feels right or not.
So yes, in Anita’s world, art truly does imitate life. It’s pain spread all over canvas and wood and paper. It’s a glorious purging that happens in studios and classrooms and backyards on quiet, mild Wednesday afternoons. It’s tears and forgiveness and understanding disguised as paint and clay and color. It’s love that she gets to do for free or pay or sanity’s sake. It’s healing and therapy and the only way she can live her life and be her best self.
It is through this art that the world even knows who Anita Bates is and through it that she has come to know her self.
Anita continues to display her artwork, is currently residing in Highland Park, Michigan with her husband Ken and has recently applied to the Doctoral program at Wayne State University in Detroit.
written by Traci Ricks for The Amazing Woman Network