Artist: Francine Almeda
Host: Sarah Evers

Noel, Acrylic on canvas


I don’t consider myself a homebody. I feel happiest being out in the world, spending time with others, staying busy. But this past year has required a deep shift in my behavior in space. I now spend much more time in my bedroom, and a significant amount of time in bed. Activities include writing in my journal, scrolling through Instagram, reading, watching Top Chef, and lots of sleeping. Spending more time in my room has made me more conscious of my surroundings, more thoughtful about what I put on my walls, more aware of how my mood can be affected by this confined space.

Noel by Francine Almeda has been hanging above my headboard for the past few months, slightly off center from where my head rests while I sleep. As a painting, it fuses the familiar and the uncomfortable, even the sacred and the profane.

The title Noel calls to mind the history and traditions around the birth of Jesus. How many people were unable to celebrate Christmas with their families this past year? How many beds in childhood homes lay empty? How many spaces now feel haunted?

If nothing else, this year has left us with more questions than answers.

One of my favorite things about Noel is that the sparse composition provides room for projecting personal thoughts and experiences. The bed is just a bed, but maybe it looks like the bed in your room growing up. Maybe it looks like the bed where you lay with your first love. Maybe it looks like no bed you’ve ever seen before, but the shadows bring back memories.

To me, the bed does not remind me of another place. I am not transported to a memory from my past. Instead I am at peace. In Noel, I find balance. I find dark and light sharing space. I find rest and reflection. I find a sense of unease paired with a sense of calm, even a kind of normalcy in that ratio. 

Through the ups and downs and many plateaus of this year, I have spent significant time reflecting from bed. In addition to the grief and rage I experienced as a result of the pandemic and the continued murder of Black and Brown people by the police, I quit a graduate program, went through two breakups, and reassessed my career path. My bed has played a central role in processing all of these moving pieces and coming to forms of conclusions. My bed has helped me quiet the noise of doubt, guilt, and shame, and focus in on what’s real.

I wrote this from bed, my head just below Noel, my feet under my comforter. I have paused every so often while writing to look up at Noel. The shadows reign over the lower quadrant of the painting, kept at bay by the bed. The bed is a protectorate of sorts, guarding the sanctity of the light. But light and dark find a way to coexist here: in the plane of the painting, in my tangled thoughts, and in the world outside the comfort of my bed.

— Sarah Evers