I finished my entry for Art from the Heart today. This was a tough piece to do, but it had to be done. It started last Sunday, the day after the Tucson shootings. I wanted to do the Journal Project from 3 Creative Studios, and my goal I set was to work in a 8.5 by 11 inch piece, using only scraps from my stash.
Well, last Sunday I was in deep depression over the shootings and had to work with some fabric. I pulled some blacks that looked like barriers, fencing. One looked like chicken wire, and one like barbed wire. Black and white, barriers. I used the traditional courthouse steps pattern from quilting, and then used red thread for “blood” to stitch those into place. I was staying pretty literal at that point.
From there I wanted to look at the words and ideas that continue to divide us as a country, but I didn’t want it to just be words. What about action on our parts? I printed out the words on white fabric and then sewed them to the background. If you look at the words closely, you’ll see I used a large needle with very fine thread, as I wanted the needle holes to show…like the bullet holes that wound us.
I actually had trouble coming up with the words to use. So many words I thought of are far more inflammatory than I wanted for this piece. I wanted more general terms that would not cause people to fixate on them and get angry. Yes, the vitriol is heating up, but the purpose of this piece is not to add to the anger. I included left-wing as well as right-wing, and if you look, they are on the opposite sides of the quilt. This needs to be about “us,” not “we” and “them.”
I knew I would have a candle with a flame to illuminate the darkness. Again I printed out the names of the shooting victims. I know from visiting the Vietnam Memorial how powerful names can be, and I do not want us ever to forget these six people. I want their lives to shine down on us and help us overcome these horrible things that divide us. I used three different colors of metallic threads to develop the light from the candle. It doesn’t photograph as brightly as it actually is, so I may still add more strands of candle light.
I don’t think – in fact, I know – I’m not done. There is more I need to say through fabric, but I need to get a week or so of distance for myself, as well as work on the website. Plus, I am having to think through my own issues with some of these words – monitor my own language and actions.