I think that I should revisit that mention of the LaConner Quilt Museum from my last post, mostly because I might forget if I leave it for too long.
Besides being taken away by the fact that I was walking through my idea of a dream home, remember this photo…
the textiles and art were admirable. Of course pictures weren’t allowed, but here is a link to the museum site if you want to check out the exhibits.
I was personally struck by one artist, Helen Remick, because her work in this exhibit related directly to her experiences of living with arthritis. She is also a local artist so this is my plug of support for local art/artists: visit and admire their work and tell them why you like it. Let them know how they touch you with their expression. I did just that in an email after tracking her down. I don’t mean that in a creepy, stalkerish way at all. I just confused her name with those of roughly four or five other artists who I also admired that were taking part in the quilt exhibit. I had to do some backtracking and digging online to match the correct art piece with the correct name before I could find her webpage.
Helen has a series of – five actually – quilt pieces entitled Fleur de la Maladie, with two on display at the museum. I remember seeing the first one at the end of a hallway and knowing immediately that one of the flowers, the droopy, dead-looking one bending over the vase, was the image of a hand specifically. *Look closely at the ‘fresh’ flowers as well.
I read her description of the piece and found that she had incorporated the x-ray image of her own hand and turned it into that useless, dead flower. Those misshapen joints looked so very familiar.
Viewing the second piece was like looking at myself with even greater clarity, and inside out view if you will.
Again, wilted ‘petals’ lying lifeless below the vibrant, geometric flowers were all quilted from various x-rays of hands, vertebrae and other joints. Do you notice the vase? She has quilted her own cervical x-ray, along with tiny versions of her feet as the pedestals of the vase. It’s difficult to tell in this small photo, but the joints show osteoarthritis damage at its finest.The other quilts in the series, along with some of her other work can be found in this webpage gallery.
I’ve never encountered art that has spoken so loudly both to me, and about me. I get sort of silently bitchy sometimes with all the attention paid to those who deal with rheumatoid arthritis. Those of us who have the working persons counterpart, osteoarthritis, deal with just as much pain and frustration and longing to do and be and take part in life as anyone who carries the arthritis label. We however don’t have the drug companies behind us, or the ad campaigns shouting out how those very same drugs are going to revolutionize our life, allowing us to live with our disease. We tend to get tossed a prescription for high-level anti-inflammatory meds that silently do bad things to other parts of our bodies, and are told to move, but not irritate those affected joints.
I want to ask just how those of us with OA should try not to use thumbs on a daily basis. Or how we are to drive without turning our heads. How about that idea of needed exercise. We try walking with ankles and knees cracking and aching and are reminded that even expensive, cushiony, balanced shoes aren’t going to lessen the amount of pills we’ll be taking after even a short walk.
I want to say, “You try having your fingers lock up, literally become immobilized, when your joints attempt to grasp or pinch or hold something as common as a pen, or kitchen tool.” I want to remind people just how real OA is when you are forced to look at your grandchild and tell them that grandma can’t pick them up, or go ahead and lift up this child whom you love while feeling pain shooting up your arm and down your neck, and also feeling real fear that sooner rather than later you simply will not have the ability to accomplish something so simple.
I think, more than anything, I want people to know that simply because you can’t see a disease or illness or affliction,and no matter the cause of that malady, it is no less real for those living with it. Please don’t pity me, but also don’t brush off my need, our needs, to be treated with respect, to be believed, and to understand just how hard it can be for us to ask for help, especially when we are so used to doing for ourselves.
Well…that went in a direction that I didn’t really plan. I truly had not intended on a rant. I can only guess that comments made a few months ago between the spouse and a companion, commiseration between two men that, rather intended or not, was degrading and belittling and also self-aggrandizing, has remained within my psyche and took advantage of this meant-to-be casual post on art, to make itself known.
So, rather an artist touches a physical part of you, the emotional being within you, or even just makes you question yourself, or your world, or your expectations of such, tell them. Find a way to let them know that what they do, what they create, is important. Tell them thank you.