Friday, August 22, 2008

Behind on the Mortgage

(Click on image to enlarge. Above: Behind on the Mortgage. Stitched large words: Some how...Some way...I'm keeping my home. 25 1/5" x 19" unframed. 31" x 25" framed. Xylene transfer on tea-stained muslin. Hand beading and embroidery. Catalog # 1076.)

(Above and below: Details. Click on image to enlarge.)

After I posted my "wish list" for possible subjects in the Decision Portrait Series, I was contacted by Theresa Mack who volunteered for Never to Late to Learn. I wanted someone at least 70 years of age pursuing a college degree. This textile artist, however, isn't close to 70 but has gone back to school at nearly 50. I was intrigued but not quite sure this was "right". Then, I learned more....about a struggle to keep a home. Her blog post resonated with me. I knew Theresa was right for another portrait....this one, 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 a week and 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 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. I felt the same story was being told by Theresa. 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 know I was influenced by the two-day class I took in Sweden under Tilleke Schwarz, but in an unexpected way. 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 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!


Wanda said...

Susan, you bring courage, hope and determination to each portrait. This is absolutely beautiful. I love the text stitching and it creates a halo around Theresa Mack that means so many things. Beautiful addition to the collection. We were brought up to believe that we could do whatever we wanted long as we put our minds to it. Well, she is LIVING that belief. Wonderful

arlee said...

I just realized that every word you "write" is couched----what patience--and eloquent as it takes nothing away from the words and adds no frills or furbelows--plain, simple and powerful, words with meaning.

Gunnels blog said...

This portrait is wonderful !!
And I agree - you have already your own beutiful style! Keep it!

Karen said...

This is another powerful portrait and so timely! I find it interseting to read about your class experience. After all is said and done, your true style (call it the soul of your art) will shine through. Your art soul is strong and beautiful,these portraits speak straight from the heart.
At least you were able to experience how others work and to perfect and try new ways to add to your own style.

Emmy said...

It is so good that you see your way is the best way go for it I love your work