Monday, January 25, 2010
Weeding the Garden
The linen patchwork has turned into quite the therapy piece. I was trained as an art therapist, but for a still deeply buried reason, I have avoided dealing with some of my own life events through this process. However, a counselor has been encouraging me to use the non-verbal language of cloth to explore some recent happenings.
Floral motifs have always been a popular for household linens, symbolizing beauty and fertility. Gathered together in this piece, they form a garden. The varied cloths, created by unknown hands, also form a community of their makers - kind of a hovering presence of support, of connection to other people.
But weeds can appear in the garden. Technically, weeds are just plants in the wrong place, but left to their own devices they will choke out the flowers. The "weeds" in this piece were deliberately planted by another person into my own psyche, then transplanted by me into this cloth. The cloth can "hold" them - when I see the poison they contain, I can't believe I let them take root in my mind.
But now the cloth is infested. The next step is to apply another layer, this time with healthy, strong, nurturing words that other people have said to me (including words from some of you!) These words inoculate the soil (fabric) of my life and help the flowers flourish.
There! Enough of the gardening metaphors.
A couple of notes on my process: I gathered the "weeds" from a series of tirades that I was subjected to. Rather than try and defend myself, which never seemed to help, I started to write the words down, like a stenographer. Afterwards, I could clearly see the lack of logic or truth in them.
More importantly, why did I choose to infest this beautiful cloth with such nastiness? Well, in spite of my passion and love for all things textile, and my belief in cloth's ability to hold and convey meaning and metaphor, it IS external to me. My cloth is not me, it safely and gently allows me to express myself. That is what I mean by "holding".
And, oddly enough, this is not a slow cloth. I decided to use the machine to piece it, and to embroider the words. I felt like I had to work quickly to get it out, and hand stitching is such an act of love I didn't want to give the "weeds" the pleasure. I kind of like the crudeness and ineptitude of the machine stitching in this case, the puckering and pulling are like scars.
Finally, I wish my photos were better. White fabric is so difficult to photograph, it seems.