Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Cheater, Decision Portrait
(Above: Cheater, Decision Portrait Series. Stitched word: Unfaithful. Xylene photo transfer on tea-stain muslin. Hand beaded and stitched. 25" x 19" unframed; 31" x 25" framed. Click on image to enlarge.)
Some pieces in the Decision Portrait Series have long, involved, complex stories that unfold in these written words that accompany them. This isn't one of those pieces.
Most pieces in the Decision Portrait Series are straight-forward depictions of a decision made by the person in the artwork...a real likeness of a real individual, generally named, honestly stating his or her decision as fact. This isn't one of those pieces.
Several pieces in the Decision Portrait Series deal with bittersweet options....a person faced with more than one choice, neither particularly great choices, and the decision made under these circumstances. This isn't one of those pieces either.
(Above: Cheater, Decision Portrait Series. Click on image to enlarge.)
This is a deeply personal, highly secretive, honestly shared decision. I am in total awe of the brave individual who volunteered to share it with me and allowed me to stitch the work of art. It was truly my honor to stitch this portrait.
Several months ago, I would not have known that I would hold in such very high esteem a person who had engaged in an extra martial affair. See....I've been married nearly thirty years to the one and only love of my life. Coming from my background, people who "cheat" are "bad". I learned that this isn't the case.....far from it! Life is full of twists and turns. I shouldn't judge. I didn't judge here.....I learned!
It took bravery to admit the affair. It took courage to write to me. It took an act of nearly unbelievable faith to trust me to stitch this portrait with love, compassion, and a non-judgmental mind. The "model" and I have never met. Ours is a totally Internet relationship. She trusted me with her history.
We corresponded about the image. She suggested the wedding gown and bridal veil. It is PERFECT. It symbolically brings the vows she took into focus. She approved the single stitched word: Unfaithful. The wedding attire and single word drive the decision home. It is obvious....though she is mysteriously veiled....alluring....a temptress....a goddess of desire. The work will confront exhibition viewers with several questions: Have I ever thought about or been unfaithful? How would I react if my partner was unfaithful? How would I react to someone I know admitting such an indiscretion? These are exactly the questions I hoped such a portrait would generate. I am so totally grateful and most appreciative to someone brave enough to let me make this statement by using her image in this stitched series. THANK YOU!
By the way....serendipity played a hand in the creation of this piece. I didn't have anything in my studio to use for the added "bridal veil". I knew I wanted to add tulle or netting, beads and ribbons, embellishments that suggested a "veiled" look and a bridal attire. I was going to have to go SHOPPING....which I hate. Yes, I know that I'm "supposed" to love buying new fabric, browsing the aisles at Hancock's or JoAnn's or some specialty store....but I don't. I prefer recycled materials, post consumer garments, and vintage household linens. I'm one of those strange fiber artists who don't feel tempted to buy "fat quarters" in at quilt shop. I have no problem resisting seasonal patterns, new designs, or luscious colored cotton prints. Instead, I dread shopping. I hated the idea of going to buy a snippet of netting...but I needed it. Amazingly, Alicia Leeke, a local artist who is mainly a painter but has also worked in shibori and hand dyed fibers, came to my studio to unload some unwanted fabric. The material included the perfect netting. Thanks Alicia! As soon as she left, I whipped this portrait together in a matter of a day. It was MEANT TO BE!
Posted by Susan Lenz at 8:13 AM