I am a visual artist based in Los Gatos, California, where I have been exploring themes of environmental consciousness and social justice for a while now. My primary focus is on large scale oil paintings that symbolically address our precarious relationship with other species. But these days, I find myself obsessively embroidering silk rainbows on antique photographs."
When Covid-19 hit the Bay Area, my ongoing exhibitions became either virtual or were canceled all together but I was grateful to maintain an online presence and to continue working in my backyard studio. I thought quarantine would be a breeze. It hasn’t been a breeze. It’s been really hard to focus. I’ve been hit with such sadness. I was already overwhelmed with climate change and questions of environmental sustainability and distressed over the corruption of the Trump administration and the erosion of our social fabric and democratic norms. But to witness the mishandling of the pandemic in our country and the protests of the Black Lives Matter movement met with such violence and misunderstanding has been tragic. Now wildfires are tearing through California and western states, leaving a blanket of toxic air and unsettled lives. Our country is imploding, and our world is burning up! Times are dire, to be sure.
Series of found photographs embroidered with silk thread
Various dimensions (each of them fits in the palm of your hand)
All photos courtesy Marie Cameron © 2020
In the face of all this noise and pain, sadness and injustice, I was yearning for something intimate and true, something beautiful, spiritual and timeless, something hopeful and healing, something that could fit in the palm of my hand as I sat next to the air purifier. Instead of going big and loud, I have gone very small and quiet.
I decided I needed more rainbows in my life and set about embroidering them onto vintage photographs with silk threads. I chose found, period photos that could convey the transience of life and place, that would transmit an emotional charge of memory. The addition of rainbows symbolized for me not only the idea of hope and inclusion but also of a communion with spirit. Rainbows seem to offer a brief window to the universe and our place in it as they open us up to our sense of awe and wonder. So much of our daily, modern life has become devoid of this connection with nature and to our rainbow selves, our best selves. What if we were to see our true selves as rainbows full of light and color and magic? What if we saw each other and our world this way?
And so I sit with these discarded, dogeared images, ephemeral things caught from the light and shadow of the past and methodically, meditatively and lovingly pierce each with the finest of needles, pulling through the rainbow colored silk, stitch by careful stitch. Needlework that brings to mind my mother and my grandmother and my great-grandmother before her. Each rainbow a reminder, a legacy, in gratitude for the past and a prayer for our future.
This article is part of the MAHB Arts Community‘s “Covid19 Diaries”. If you are an artist interested in sharing your thoughts and artwork, as it relates to the disrupted but defining period of time we live in, please contact Michele Guieu, Eco-Artist, MAHB Member, and MAHB Arts Community coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you. ~