This past Thursday I got to do a little art making and help my mother in law, Georgia Rowswell, test drive her newest workshop.
She started making ring sculptures from her mother's old clothes. They tell stories about her life like the rings of a tree tell about years of drought and years of rain. Georgia has since turned it into an art work shop where participants can bring fabrics that are meaningful to their lives and construct their own life rings. This Tuesday she is teaching a giant workshop in conjunction with the Laramie County Library. I wanted to help her get a feel for how the workshop would run time wise along with some other library employees.
It was a lot of fun because I got to make use the clothes the EMTs cut off Bea and me after "the accident". I posed the clothes and got a picture before I started cutting them into strips for the ring. It was so odd going through the clothes and remembering how unhappy I was that they had cut my best sweater, pants, bra and underwear into unwearable scraps. I had been traveling in the states showing my daughter off to all the relatives. I could only have as many clothes that would fit in a carry on because I couldn't handle much more than pulling a suitcase, a diaper bag, carrying Bea, and slinging around a stroller through multiple airports. Having all my best clothes cut off me at once was a little devastating beyond all the medical stuff that followed.
I should start with the story of the accident. I have given my life ring the title, "Chaos of the Mistaken Jew". We should get to title our life stories, right?
I had traveled back to the states for three months with my six month old daughter to introduce her to all our relatives while she was still a baby. My husband was going to stay behind in Japan and then come out for the last month and help me with her on the plane ride home. I was staying in Cheyenne with my in laws at the time.
After having lunch with a couple of friends at a BBQ joint downtown and I was strolling Bea back to the parking garage to get our car. We crossed at a four way stop and a car blew through the intersection at 40 mph, crossed into the other lane, and hit us. Then left us for dead. We later learned that he was psychotic, off his meds and cruising around downtown looking for a Jew to kill. We just happened to be the ones.
Luckily, Bea was in a sturdy stroller and a thick coat so she didn't have a scratch. I was the one that was worse for wear. I had bleeding on the left side of my brain and a broken collar bone. I was also unconscious for a few days. My collarbone was broken so severely that I needed to have a plate put in.
The Red Cross was able to fly Ian out the day of the accident for emergency leave. He didn't know anything beyond that Bea and I had been in a car accident and he had a whole day of flying before he could get any more information. It was all very challenging and we spent a month living with my in laws before I was approved to go back to Japan.
Georgia ended up keeping the clothes that they had taken off Bea and I for her fabric scrap pile. She even saved my hospital gown. Then we decided to use them for this project. I tried to arrange them in such a way that it showed the turbulence of the situation. I used the frayed edges of my sweater where the EMTs ripped it off my body. The zipper of my coat represents how the whole process unzipped my intelligence, personality and dignity, leaving an animal writhing in pain. Focusing on texture, movement and animal qualities of the sweater and the faux fur from the inside of my jacket helped me reinterpret my feelings from the accident.