I have a horrible memory. I am one of those people who loses names a second after they are spoken. I forget doctor's appointments and birthdays unless they are programmed into my cellphone. I keep an art business notebook on my desk where I record each packet sent to curators, summaries of phone conversations, deadlines, etc. to keep my career together.
Yet, I can remember what was happening in my life when I was making each work of art. I recall what I was thinking about when I made specific brush strokes, even on paintings that are over a decade old. I know who I was dating when I made The Fertilization Dress, embroidering three sperm an hour for days on end, thinking about that someone I was with who never wanted to have children. I worried about the fate of my brother through the entire process of making The Initiate. Blessed Art Thou was completed over Christmas, when I was hosting a house full of family... I planned what cookies to make while painting the figures below.
There is something about the nature of working with fiber that seems to "tie in" the life experiences in a more intricate way than painting. Hard to know if it is something about the activity itself, or the way time passes. Perhaps the repetitive nature allows the mind to wander into real life a bit more while working.
In my real life today, it is pouring rain, the tail end of Hurricane Fay passing over NC. I am propped up on the couch in the den with blankets around me and candles lit, embroidering. My husband is on his way to Kansas City for an interview, because exactly one week after we spent an ungodly amount of money on IVF, he was laid off, along with about 50 other people, in the annual corporate cutback. Our insurance ended the next day, so we are shelling $800 a month out of pocket. We are supposed to be getting our house ready to put on the market, but things are not going well with the pregnancy, so I am confined to bed rest and cannot help.
I met my husband when I was 41, after a long, fun, free & crazy single life that I always assumed would go on forever. (My shrink once asked me what my love life theme song was, and I replied, "that's easy... Ain't Nothin' Gonna Break My Stride".) It blows my mind when I think about where I am in the universe right now, sitting on this couch, gestating, trying to be still and peaceful. At this moment, I am quietly concentrating on the two jobs before me:
1) making the work, and
2) being a safe vessel (denying every programmed fiber in my being that tells me to go, go, go and to push, push, push)
I, like many artists, have said that making work is like a prayer, but it has never been more true than it is today. Because no matter what happens, forever, the stitches in my ice/guardian angel painting and the new hair embroidery will be stitches that attempted to "sew in" and secure this life inside of me, while thinking with each stitch, "Stay. Stay. Hang on, little peanut..."