At the age of 7 I began learning to sew from my grandmother, who was a skilled seamstress. I continued to sew through my adolescent years until I began to study pottery in college. For the last 30 years I have worked exclusively as a ceramic artist. This series is the first artistic work in which I combine my sewing and ceramic skills as a unified creative expression.
The segmented dress panels and disconnected vessel pieces, which comprise this installation, are metaphors for the psychological state of brokenness I experienced during my many years of suffering from depression. The patterns on the fabric panels are formed by creating a network of welted borders around a template of ceramic shards.
Beginning in the late 80s and continuing through the early 90s, I was in “reparenting” therapy – a form of treatment in which the therapist assumes the role of surrogate parent whose repeated demonstrations of stability provide corrective experiences from the damaging effects of unstable, defective parenting suffered by the patient at an early age. During my therapy there came a pivotal point when I made a shift from constantly “acting out” my psychological pain to being able to write about it. All but the final text of the writings presented here are from that period of my recovery. The final text, written over two decades later, evolved from the continuation of my healing journey.
I feel frightened and fragmented.
I feel as though I have been prematurely torn from my sustenance.
I am a tiny disengaged piece that is adrift in an enormous world.
I frantically wonder:
What do I do? Where do I go? How do I tend to myself?
I am trapped in a dark void of
Vastness and infinite space.
I fear I will disappear into nothingness.
I desperately reach out for something to grasp.
I scream, but only my echo answers.
Where is my sustainer in life? Where is the source from which I came?
I need to find you, I need to reconnect, I need to be nurtured.
I want to grow into a complete entity.
I am distressed.
As life moves onward, I stay frozen in this pain and incompleteness.
What happened to Andi after entering into the world?
I am a shell that carries her name
But I am not Andi.
Occasionally I hear her, “I’m still alive. Get me out”.
I can’t see her; I only see the form that houses her.
The walls that encase Andi are thick and dense,
Constructed over time, layer on top of layer
Made of other people; built with their voices.
Each addition was another subtraction of her
From ever developing.
I want Andi.
The search for her is painful.
I peel away layer after layer after layer.
Who are others? Who is Andi?
I long for the day when I find her
And we can embrace
And be one
Moving a razor across my skin
Leaving red trails that drip down thin,
Cuts in the surface
Stinging felt throughout
Slits on the surface
Leave a linear route.
Smashing through windows with my fist
Wanting the glass to cut into my wrist,
Explosions of glass
Glass in the skin
Jagged edges of glass
Glass sticking in.
In a flash of emotion,grabbing a wire
Grinding it in till the flesh burns like fire,
Rubbing flesh raw
Sharp objects work best
Scraping flesh raw
Till the feelings get rest.
Pressing a cigarette against my skin
Over and over I keep pushing in,
Heat on the surface
Pink welts on the flesh
Spots on the surface
Make patterns of mesh.
Visions of butchering my skin with a knife
Cringing with each cold metal slice,
The skin is cut open
The pain is so nice
And the ritual continues
For I must pay the price.
Skin is my vehicle
To externalize my pain,
Skin is my outlet
To help me feel sane.
Slash the flesh open
Stick objects in,
All pain is transferred
To my surface, the skin.
Deep within my being hides a scared child,
Plastered over with defenses.
She is concealed from being seen.
Stuck in the agony of missing her nurturing,
She weeps and she screams.
Imprisoned by her injuries,
Longing to break out,
She yells, “Someone please help me.
I want to heal; I want to grow.”
Her emptiness and loneliness remain.
My smiling adult facade is a masquerade
Preventing those around me from ever
Hearing and helping the hurting little girl inside me.
Bring distraction and satisfaction
In taking away my ache.
Provide connection and aid the suppression
Of my inner, empty self.
But no joke
No outer stroke
No given hug
No provided fact
Can quench my insatiable hunger
For validation and self - appreciation.
Oh, stop the rhymes and discounting chimes
For my heart is hurting
And there is no humor in my ache.
It is excruciating to function with no sense of a self.
I have no solid foundation that guides me.
I don’t know what to feel from, act from, think from.
I feel separate and alone even amongst people.
I am incomplete; a mere conglomeration of fragmented pieces.
And, as I continue to experience the ache
I relieve it with a range of sensations
Small body, tiny hands
Spread against the window.
Eyes searching, heart palpitating,
Don’t leave me, don’t leave me!
The child is alone and frightened
In the strangeness that surrounds her.
Body grown, mind fearing.
The woman reacting from childhood traumas
To the few that she has let in.
Don’t get too close to them,
I can’t stand abandonment.
Please don’t disappear from me,
It’s unbearable to be left alone
Downward, downward, downward I spiral
Into a space of nothingness
Detached from now.
Internal darkness envelops me.
I am only aware of
Being lonely in a vacuum of aloneness.
I continue to descend,
Disconnected from what’s around me
Deeper into the void.
Old words resonate throughout:
“ Worthless”, “defective”, “inadequate”,
“Unwanted”, “stupid”, “bad”,
Over and over and over.
With their relentless repetition
I curl tighter into myself
Forming a small fetal ball.
Further I am pulled into the abyss
Dense with black, deep in pain.
I am little, helpless, forsaken
Prematurely torn from my life source.
Searching, reaching, grasping
Unable to connect, unable to bond,
An infant adrift, left screaming.
Despair swallows me.
I’m so tired of heaviness.
I’m tired of struggle.
I’m tired of life.
I want relief.
Death sounds peaceful.
Death would be simple.
All it would take is one slash
Penetrating beyond the vein.
After the excitement, it is only me.
No activities structuring my time
No projects to lose myself in.
Stillness leaves me facing me.
Empty, lost, bored, lonely.
Eyes closed shut, mind wide open
She appears before me.
Luminous rays of purple
Radiating from an oval form.
She floats towards me
Her shape only inches away,
No face, no features, no body.
From her shimmering light
Two arms appear, reaching out,
Palms softly stroking my cheeks.
Then a sweet whisper,
“It’s okay; it’s okay; it’s all okay.
I have been with you from the beginning, loving you.
I will be with you forever, loving you.”
Eyes still shut, I finally see.
Truth cracks open my heart.
Outward pour tears of release.
I feel sorrow, joy, tender, free.
The story I had created was not me.
I am not thoughts; I am beyond narrative.
Without restraints, I roar My Beauty.