Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Broken Nest

Broken Nest, Decision Portrait Series. Stitched words: Threw an unruly child OUT. Xylene photo transfer on tea-stained muslin. Hand stitched and beaded.  25" x 19" unframed; 31" x 25" framed.  Click on image to enlarge.

Some decisions are particularly difficult. When facing them, none of the options are really desirable. Years later, the decision still is unsettling.... but had to be made. These are the bittersweet choices that life seems to dole out.... often to the nicest, most understanding, and compassionate people. This is one of those decisions.

As an artist, I've been looking for people to share these sorts of painful decisions. It took several email messages and some gentle urging to stitch this portrait. I stressed how it would touch many people. It would let other mother's with difficult kids know they're not alone. We corresponded about the title and the words because, as harsh as the truth is, the portrait needs to carry a message of hope, love, and a sense of the complexities involved. I think the results do just that.

The wonderful lady who reluctantly shared this decision and I have several things in common. She threw an unruly child out of her house. She had to do it. She didn't want to do it. The memory of it haunts her. Loving such a child is very, very difficult. I know. I, too, am the mother of a difficult child. It's been over four years since my younger son defiantly left home. He's an uninsured, unemployed high school drop out. I don't know where he lives but, shortly before I stitched this portrait, he got my business logo tattooed on his leg. (Just imagine ... the business logo for Mouse House ... a "mouse" depicted inside the outline of a "house"!)  Both this depicted mother and I have suffered the inevitable "Was I the worst Mom on earth?" sort of mental questioning. Both of us are familiar with the concept of a "broken nest". She gives me hope though. There's been a reconciliation in her family.... but things will never be the same.

We have something else in common. We both are firm believers in Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way. We believe that serendipity actively plays a role in our lives. It played a role in this portrait too. When corresponding about the title and words for this portrait, my parents visited … and brought the dove feathers they'd found in the woods around their home. Perfect details at the perfect time! The day I finished the portrait, my artistic mentor (whose studio is just around the hall from mine) insisted I come outside to see the baby birds that were under the nearby scrubs ... three doves! I always share the finished portraits with each participant via email. This is what she wrote back: "I do so believe in the serendipity of life. Doves have been frequenting my house this summer in large numbers!"  I'm considering these signs of peace to come.

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