This quilt emerged after my hysterectomy after years of heavy bleeding and cramps during my monthly periods. Before my surgery I felt intense shame over the extent of my bleeding–a shame I rarely discussed. As I recovered I decided to create a quilt that illustrated my experience and I painted a scrap of muslin in deep reds. Here is my artist statement for this quilt:
Women’s stories involve women’s bodies. Women are deeply ambivalent about their bodies, including their monthly periods.
I painted and stitched my quilt shortly after my hysterectomy. The shame I am expressing is from decades of painful, messy periods. The lack of a quilt binding reflects the menstrual rags used by women before me.
The creation of this quilt brought healing for me as I named my shame and opened my heart to God’s healing touch. In the book, With Sacred Threads, the authors quote Laurie Bushbaum, a quilter, fabric artist and minister: “Whatever else art may be, it is primarily the work of the soul. For me, art has been the way to find Soul, nurture it, heal it, grow it.”
Through my art-making, I was able to voice my pain and move toward wholeness. Finding my voice through art-making frees me to explore themes of suffering, pain and loss in my art quilts. As writer Madeleine L’Engle, in her superb meditation on art and faith, notes: “The artist cannot hold back; it is impossible, because writing, or any other discipline of art, involves participation in suffering, in the ills and the occasional stabbing joys that come from being part of the human drama.” (Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art)
This quilt was in the Huron Valley Arts Center exhibit a few years ago and in the publicity for the art show, the director identified this quilt as “cutting edge.” She told me this when I dropped it off prior to the exhibit and as I walked to the car with Kevin, my husband, I muttered, “This is the first time I’ve ever been called ‘cutting edge’!” 😉