April 16, 2018

Mere Objects 80.jpg

Mere Objects: a tiny knit scarf, carefully stitched through in gold, with extra gold thread piled on top. 

This tiny artwork was created by a woman who experienced about 5 years of childhood sexual abuse by multiple perpetrators — and who describes her life since as a fight against the “unending consequences” of trauma. 

Growing up in a conservative Christian community, she did eventually learn that her secret horror was called sexual abuse. But she also learned a moral code that emphasized “purity” above all else — leading her to conclude in middle school that the only solution to her supposed “impurity” would be to marry one of the abusers. 

Her path to healing has been long — marked by re-traumatizing attempts at reporting the abuse, and perfectionist striving to ward off any hint of pain or vulnerability. But today, after much grief and healing, she is able to write of herself and her future with deep gentleness and wisdom. 

She describes the rhythm of knitting as a meditative process, and the variegated blue yarn as symbolic of healing waters: tears, baptisms, and her own womb which recently carried her first child. The gold thread refers to Kintsukuroi, the Japanese tradition of mending with gold, which is a part of her own multicultural heritage. 

And finally, that extra bundle of gold thread anticipates future growth and healing — a “prophetic gift to self, a provision for my future.”

Beloved one, may that prophetic golden thread expand outward to the most unknown reaches of your soul, bringing forth wholeness and life far beyond what you could expect or even imagine. 

(This object was assembled in a workshop at Calvin College & the photo you’re seeing here was taken in the Center Art Gallery. I'll be re-photographing it in my home studio when this exhibition wraps up in a few weeks.)

Sarah JaneComment