(Above: Aylah, Decision Portrait Series. 25" x 19". Xylene photo transfer on tea-stained muslin with seat belt, beads and hand embroidery. Some of the beads are very special ... ostrich eggshells ... as a symbol of life's fragile nature. Click on image to enlarge.)
From my blog post of November 20, 2012:
Although it had been just over two years since stitching the last Decision Portrait, I fell right into a rhythm with this newest piece in the series ... which now numbers 108. I brought the transferred image, seat belt, white acrylic felt, a stash of beads and threads, and the Thai Stucco paper background with me to Houston. I stitched the piece during the four day run of the International Quilt Festival (IQF)... in my solo exhibition at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
(Above: Me stitching Aylah at the International Quilt Festival in Houston.)
The plan to stitch in public went perfectly. It allowed interested people to ask about the series concept, touch the various layers of unique material, and ask about the photo transfer process. Everyone was deeply touched. Many brushed away tears.
(Above: A class of fifteen year old girls from a nearby private school ... looking at Aylah's portrait after I gave a brief tour of my work. Click on image to enlarge.)
One of the most wonderful parts of stitching in public was the chance to talk with visiting school groups. On the third day an all-girls school class of fifteen-year-olds came by my exhibit. The IQF tour guide asked me to speak. I talked about being an artist, the series, and ended with Aylah, a beautiful high school sophomore and competitive team cheerleader and member of the school's popular step team. I talked about her unfortunate, last decision. Aylah didn't buckle up. She accepted a ride from a teacher who didn't buckle up. The distracted driver ran a stop sign ... and both were killed. One other step team member did buckle up and walked away from a horrific accident.
(Above: Aylah's grave. Aylah (pronouced like Kayla but without the "K") was born on July 24, 1991 at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota. Her favorite color was baby blue. Her school colors were serendipitously black and gold ... just like the beads on her portrait. The car accident occurred on November 30th, 2006 near East Dublin, GA where Aylah attended East Laurens High School. Aylah lost her fight for life on December 6th ... donating her organs the next day. Aylah's Facebook page is still active ... as an important way of remembering this special girl.)
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