Sunday, December 07, 2008

Pet Owner: Decision Portrait Series

(Pet Owner. 25" x 18 1/2". Xylene transfer on tea-stained muslin. Hand embroidery. Stitched words: I had to put my cat to sleep.)

I met Elizabeth Cherry Owen while at the MacNamara Foundation on Westport Island, Maine. Elizabeth is an awesome fiber artist. Her art quilts dazzle with intricate stitches, buttons, found fabrics, and a personal narrative that touches upon her Southern roots but also belies a love of cultural diversity. Elizabeth's work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Robert Shaw included her work in The Art Quilt, the definitive survey of contemporary quilts published in 1977. Basically, Elizabeth is an awesome fiber artist!

Yet, the Elizabeth I met was in mourning. Only the week before she'd had to put her beloved cat Stoney to sleep. She'd prayed for days for him to quietly just slip away; but, in the end, she had to make the difficult decision herself.

We were talking about decisions. Some of my finished pieces in the Decision Portrait Series were hanging on the design wall behind us. We talked about our pets, mortally, and humane responsibilities. I asked Elizabeth if she was willing to pose. She said this was a way to commemorate her cat. I hope the portrait does justice to both Elizabeth and her cat. I know there are many of us who have had to make this choice, who mourn, and who are facing this situation.


Magpie's Mumblings said...

A lovely tribute to a beloved pet Susan...beautiful!

Doreen G said...

Your Decisions Portrait Quilts are truly amazing Susan--and this one is no exception.
You have a true gift with your art.

Julie said...

It's a beautiful tribute Susan. Thank you for the link to this amazing artist's work.

Nellie's Needles said...

It's a wonderful tribute. The only downside of having pets as part of our families is their short lifespan. As difficult as making that decision is, I wouldn't NOT be there to talk each "to sleep" with love ... as much for them as for me. I just did this recently with our beloved Sheltie, Basil.