Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Behind on the Mortgage

Behind on the Mortgage. Stitched large words: Some how...Some way...I'm keeping my home.  Smaller words:  Just do it; $; Adult College Student; Single MOM in debt; Home Sweet Home; Whatever it takes; Grit and determination; American Dream; 4.0 GPA; Military Service; As God is my witness, I’ll never be homeless; Loans; Welcome; My house is your house; Foreclosure.  Xylene photo transfer on tea-stained muslin.  Hand stitched and beaded. 25 1/5" x 19" unframed.  Click on image to enlarge.

Within a month of starting the Decision Portrait Series I posted a "wish list" on my main blog.  I was looking for possible subjects. Theresa Mack contacted me and volunteered for College Student. Yet, I wanted someone at least 70 years of age pursuing a college degree for this portrait. Theresa isn't close to 70.  She went back to school at nearly 50. Yet, I was intrigued enough to engage in an email correspondence where I learned about Theresa’s struggle to keep a home. Her words resonated with me. I knew Theresa was right for this portrait, Behind on the Mortgage. Theresa's story reminded me of my Dad and my grandparents.

Once upon a time (1953), my Dad and his parents came to America from a displaced persons camp in Germany. Dad wanted to go to college but Ohio State wouldn't accept his foreign high school diploma; he went to night school. My grandparents were much older and didn't speak English very well. The jobs they had, even with my Dad working, didn't bring in much money. Once, the mortgage was due in just a week.  They didn't have the sum. They held a "family meeting"....just the three of them. They DECIDED that "whatever it took, they'd keep the house". Odd jobs, scrap metal, overtime....hard physical work....the American Dream. They made a DECISION without knowing exactly how to bring about the desired result. They didn't even know if it was possible. There's grit and determination in these decisions. Theresa was telling the same story. I felt she had made the same decision. I wanted to put a face to this determination and I'm so pleased with the result.

By the way, my Dad did go on to college....all the way....PhD. He and my Mom live in a fancy log home by their own lake in Pennsylvania. My special hope is that Theresa will look back on her current struggles from such a beautiful, future vantage point.

As far as the stitching is concerned, I was influenced in a most unexpected way by the two-day class I took in Sweden under Tilleke Schwarz. My fascination with stitched text drew me to her class. I thought I'd find some sort of "mentor", someone to emulate. I hoped to learn better methods of design.

What I learned, however, was quite different. Instead, I learned that I've been on my own path using text for a long, long time. I stitch very rapidly and am highly productive. I have no problem plying my own thoughts with needle and thread. My ideas are personal and I have no problem developing them. My method of design works for me. I've been using text for years....in my own, wonderful way. I learned that I should trust my own instincts and that I don't really want to emulate anyone else. This is a good lesson!

Behind in the Mortgage has been included in the 2009 national juried “Materials Hard and Soft” exhibition in Denton, Texas where it won an award of distinction and was featured in the printed exhibition catalog. 

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