Daughter honors mother with art-inspired dialogue on peace

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) Small stones arranged on the steps near Henderson Lawn are more than an artistic statement, says Francine Dulong. They're a meditation, a provocation, a conversation starter.

"Part of it is definitely for me, for my own personal time, for healing," Dulong said as she wiped a tear from her eye, "but it's also about talking to people, its definitely about talking to people and educating and talking about peace, and spreading it through art."

Dulong's mother, Jocelyn Couture-Nowak, was a French instructor, teaching a class in Norris Hall on April 16, 2007.

Ten years after her death, Dulong says she finds powerful reminders of her mother in many simple pleasures.

"Any time I see a flower it's my mom," she said. "Any time I plant something it's my mom. Any time people are dancing, particularly to disco music it's my mom."

And she believes her mother would have loved what she's doing now.

The Space Between is an artistic collaboration spanning 32 days, a project that's included music, theater and community dialogues.

"I have to say I'm doing better than I ever thought I could be, from the moment that I lost my mother," Dulong said, "but I said it back then and I'll say it now, she wouldn't want me to just be sitting in the basement crying my eyes out. I should be out in the sunshine crying and talking and sharing."

The Space Between will conclude this weekend, with a storytelling event at the Lyric Theatre, Sunday at 4 p.m.