Since 2014, SevenPonds has featured the art of Page Hodel on our blog. We’ve told the story behind her beautiful handmade hearts — a story of a brief, intense love affair that ended in heartbreak and changed Page’s life forever. It’s a sad story, but also an uplifting one, in that it shows us how love can inspire us to do things we never dreamed of. And how love can live on even after a devastating loss.
Page Hodel tells the story herself in her 2010 book, “Monday Hearts for Madalene.” Written by the artist, it is a compilation of 100 gorgeous photographs, each one of which is a source of wonder and delight. But even more importantly, it is a compelling tribute to the power of love to transform and the power of art to heal.
A Modern Love Story
Page Hodel and Madalene Rodriguez met when Page was 48 years old. The two fell in love instantly, and for seven “dizzyingly romantic” months experienced a level of happiness Page never knew existed before they met. “I was dancing through my days so deeply alive,” she writes. “It was like there was a softness coating everything around me. Colors and flavors became so vivid and rich…like a delirious, brilliant hurricane of happiness,” she adds. “I felt like the whole world was in love.”
During their seven months together, Page was working nights as a DJ in San Francisco and Madalene worked as a librarian during the day. The two lived across the street from each other. So every Sunday night after work Page would sneak over to Madalene’s house and create a heart on her doorstep. She made hearts from anything she could find — rocks, flowers, twigs and stems. They were, Page writes, “meant to be simple, pretty, sweet, ‘I love you’ and ‘I give you my heart.’”
Tragically, Page’s and Madalene’s love affair was not meant to last. Seven months after they met, Madalene was diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer. Four months later, on June, 20, 2006, she died.
Healing Through Art
Shortly before her death, Madalene told Page how much the handmade hearts had meant to her. And she shared a secret. Sometimes she would set her alarm for 3 a.m. so she could look out the window and watch as Page made her a heart. Right then, Page made a promise to Madalene and to herself: She would continue to make a heart for Madalene every Monday for the rest of her life. This would be her tribute to their love.
But as it turned out, it would also be the one thing that gave Page’s life meaning and purpose during the months after Madalene’s death. By sharing the hearts she created in Madalene’s memory — first with friends and family and later with the world — Page shared her deeper truth — “that love has always and will always link all beings throughout eternity.” And that, she says, is what saved her life.
The hearts featured in “Monday Hearts for Madalene” are beautiful and incredible. Using natural and man-made materials, Page creates deeply personal works of art that speak of love, creativity, passion and a deep respect for the meaning behind the act. There are hearts made of vegetables; hearts made of flowers; and hearts made of postage stamps. Some are deliberately dichotomous, juxtaposing the hard edge of man-made materials with the softness of flowers. Others are whimsical. And some are a bit comical, like the heart made of toothbrushes on page 81. Yet taken in their entirety, they are a moving, tender portrait of a woman who has transformed heartbreak into a stunning tribute to the healing power of love.
“Monday Hearts for Madalene” is a wonderful book. Not only are the hearts visually stunning, but Page’s very personal account of her brief time with Madalene will touch your heart. Buy it as a gift for a loved one or as a present to yourself. You’ll be glad you did.
Want to see more of Page’s work? Visit Monday Hearts for Madalene on our blog.