"ER: Page of Potholders (coins) in the Kitchen Tarot." (Eleanor Roosevelt and Equal Rights)
by Susan Shie Contact me
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"ER: Page of Potholders (coins) in the Kitchen Tarot." (Eleanor Roosevelt and Equal Rights)
©Susan Shie 2014. 60"h x 36"w. inventory #477. Peace Cozy #64.
Began 10-16-14. Finished 11-25-14. Many detail images follow this long artist's statement.
I made this piece by invitation for the exhibition "Expressions in Equality" curated by Sheila Frampton-Cooper, at the Visions Art Museum in San Diego, January 17 to April 4, 2015, plus its one year tour.
Materials: White kona cotton, airbrush paint, fabric paint, Aurifil cotton machine thread, Artfabrik variegated hand dyed perle cotton embroidery thread, one Green Temple Buddha Boy bead. Nature-fil bamboo and organic cotton batting.
Techniques: Whole cloth painting. Black line drawing and color areas painted with Aztek double action airbrush. Small, black writing and very thin drawing lines made with Silkpaint.com's Airpen, using black fabric paint. Mostly machine sewn, with one row of hand stitching (on the border's outside edge.)
Statement: In the title, "ER" stands for Eleanor Roosevelt, and for Equal Rights, and for Emergency Room (as in: Our world really, really needs a lot of triage for its terrible and never-ending abuse of human rights!)
This piece is focused on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), ratified by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948. You can read the whole thing on the UN website (or you can read it on my piece.) Eleanor Roosevelt chaired the commission of 18 nations' delegates who worked for a year and a half to create this document, which is used by the UN for worldwide ethics guidelines yet today. Unfortunately, most of us don't even know it exists, and when you read the Preamble and 30 Articles of the UDHR, you'll realize that many nations, including ours, often disregard the noble rules of this effort.
Besides writing the entire UDHR on this piece (and even onto its back, when I ran out of room on the front), I include current events and personal diary writing, mixed in with Eleanor Roosevelt's biography, as she was maybe the strongest advocate for human rights in our history. She became known as First Lady to the World, for her incredible dedication to improving the lives of the poor, the common people, women, and minorities.
Writing on this piece with airpen, using fabric paint, not ink:
11-2-14: My first writing, on the top left corner, is about how Eleanor was like the Page of Coins (Potholders), when she became interested in helping the needy when she was only a teenager. She was in England between the ages of 15 and 18, and the headmistress of her school there was a real social reformer, who influenced Eleanor greatly.
11-2 to 8-14: I took time away from working on this piece, as I had my last Turtle Art Camp of the year to teach here at my home and studios, with Suzanne Benjamin of Southern California.
11-10-14: I wrote a very abbreviated biography of researches I pieced together, filling Eleanor's dress with these stories of her life.
11-12: Yesterday was the US Midterm Election, and the Democrats lost the majority in the Senate, so now the Republicans control it as well as the House of Representatives. Many Dems who were running for election distanced themselves from President Obama. I wouldn't have … but then, I'm not a politician, so I guess I'm not much help to Obama, but I think he's done the best anyone could, under such stubborn and hostile determination to block all his progress. Tom Magliozzi, half of Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers (a very popular NPR radio show about cars) died on Nov 3, at 77, from complications of Alzheiner's Disease. The radio continues to air reruns of Tom and Ray's program, which they retired from in 2012. Getting older, we experience more and more people we know or know of, dying. I guess it makes you appreciate the living more, or I hope it does.
Today was the start of our first Polar Vortex of this winter. Terribly cold weather and intense snows to come all week! This is caused by another climate change event: Typhoon Nuri hit the Aleutian Islands of Alaska last week and buckled the Jet Stream. Just like Hurricane Sandy and the big floods out west lately, this is probably caused by the lack of polar ice effecting our global weather and lots more.
11-14: I'm writing the Preamble of the UNHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) above Eleanor, and then starting to write its Articles (there are 30 of them!) I started in the window behind Eleanor on the piece, and am working my way down the piece. Eventually I'll use the big potholder on ER's dress, and then the green rug under her feet, and finally the border and even the back of the piece, to be able to finish the articles. The effort of writing these went on for days and was continued after I quilted this piece.
Today is my friend Eleanor McCain's birthday, and I'm thinking of how much she reminds me of THIS Eleanor! On the stove here, I wrote a rant about how the Repubs keep trying to demolish Obamacare, even though all the other developed countries have had national health care for ages, and we're supposed to be a government of, by, and FOR the People! I took this painting in progress with me tonight to the WAGE (Wayne Artists Group Effort) meeting at Jenna Wggoner's house. At the meeting, when my friend Julie Fisher saw this piece, she started musing about ER. She quoted Eleanor: “Like a tea bag, you never know how strong a woman is, until she gets in hot water!” I bet ER DID say that! ☺
11-10: Obama gave a speech in strong support of maintaining Internet Neutrality. All the big corporations and their lackies blasted him, but they're the ones who've been trying to let big, rich companies have much faster bandwidth on the Net than the rest of us. Obama finally came out in support of keeping it totally equal, among everyone from Facebook and Amazon, to tiny little websites like mine. Power to the People! I wish politicians weren't allowed to take ANY money or perks from lobbyists. I thought Congress passed that as a bill years ago. Apparently not!
11-17: It's my former sister-in-law Donna Shie's birthday today, and here in Wooster, Ohio, we got our first snow that stuck, of this winter. Maybe 2" here, but in Cleveland they got blasted, and the farther East you went, the more snow you got. Buffalo NY ended up getting 8 FEET of snow out of this winter blast over several days, and we all got bitter cold winds and temps dipping below Zero. My walking buddy and her dog didn’t go with us in the morning, and I guess that's the first sign of a bitter winter to me: when people stop taking regular walks because of the snow, wind, cold, and ice. I hate ice.
On this painting, under the stove, I wrote about this year's terrible epidemic, that’s mostly in West Aftrica: Ebola. Today was the second US death from Ebola, and people are getting pretty scared. Dr Martin Salia, a legal permanent US resident and citizen of Sierra Leon, died today in Omaha, after treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leon. The first Ebola death here was aLiberian man, Thomas Eric Duncan, around Oct 8. Both men were very, very sick by the time they got to treatment. And in Duncan's case, some of the nurses who treated him in Dallas got sick with Ebola, but were able to survive. It's a confusing disease, and workers have to wear full body hazmat suits, in case they pick up the virus from body fluids. It supposedly isn't alive as an airborne contagion.
In this painting, I used the sink to symbolize reform, because it's where you wash things and improve them, by getting rid of bad things. The stove here is a symbol of nourishing people. Human rights depend on people being kept safe from discrimination and other problems that aren't fair, and on people having at least a basically good standard of living, in order to stay healthy.
On the news, it's rumored that ISIS, the Islamic State, a very conservative and militant Muslim organization of terrorists in the Middle East, may join with Al Quada. Yesterday ISIS beheaded another man, Peter (Abdul Rahman) Kassig, an aid worker who was working with Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Syria. In ISIS's video of the beheading of Kassig (whose killing they didn't show) and 18 Syrian soldiers, they showed full face views of the executioners, some of whom are Westerners.
I wrote on the wolf on the lower left side of this piece, that I saw a big survey about support for same sex marriage today. Right now it's at 54% approval, for all Americans, but young people are much more for it than older ones. 39% of all Repubs and 69% of Dems are for it. I've always supported any form of marriage people want. I hope it becomes a federal law, that anyone can marry anyone, soon.
I wrote on the wolf on the lower right side about Eleanor R's project to have She-She-She Camps during the New Deal, to match FDR's CCC Camps, as those were only for young men. It took her a long time to get her project enough support to happen, but eventually there were 90 camps for young unemployed women, serving 5,000 women a year. 8,500 young women were given jobs between 1936 and 1942. FDR's first-ever woman on the Cabinet, Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor, worked with ER to make these camps happen. Another thing she did to promote women in the work place was to hold press conferences in which only women reporters were in attendance.
ER resigned from the DAR when they refused to have the world famous black singer Marian Anderson perform at their Constitution Hall in Washington DC in 1939. ER then invited Anderson to sing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and 75,000 people came to hear her. (I wrote about this in the bottom yellow potholder on my piece.) The Roosevelts were the first First Family to have black Americans visit them at the White House, and ER continued to support Civil Rights wherever she could be of help.
11- 18 to 21: I made the backing panel for quilting this piece and did the sewing.
11-21: Back to airpen writing on the piece: Now I can add the last three Articles of the UDHR on the border, since the piece now has a border and is all sewn. Article 23-2 starts at the middle of the bottom of the border, continuing where I'd left off, when I ran out of room on the green rug at the bottom of the painting.
11-23: I ended up having to write the last three Articles of the UDHR on the back of this piece, because I ran out of room on the front. So far, the only person I know who's seen this piece, who recognizes what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is, is my friend Victoria Balsamo, who knows a LOT about this UN document for world ethics. She thinks maybe it's because she grew up in New York, but I wonder. It's such a shame that we don't all know about this amazing document of the very inclusive human rights every single person on this earth should have all the time. I hope you go read about it.
On the pot on the stove, I wrote about using several home remedies for having healthy gums, and these help all parts of your internal body, as well. They are plain, simple yogurt; organic apple vinegar and raw honey; and organice aloe vera.
I wrote on the far right edge of the piece, above my copyright, about the antique black fedora I got for Jimmy for his birthday, and how he’s busily refurbishing it: cleaning the body of it by brushing and brushing and brushing the hat's felted fur, and also putting a new leather inside band in it, using our antique Singer treadle patching machine. We're both so happy that that machine works again! It can sew in a circle, as you can pivot the sewing head 360º! Jimmy looks great in his new hat, which he also steamed, so he could reshape the crown to his liking. It looks brand new and quite dashing!
Today I decided where to put my Peace Cozy (the 64th one I've used.) I always wait til the piece is done, to decide where it goes. It has to make sense where I put it. I sewed it onto ER's throat, since she spoke so much in Peace and gave thousands of speeches in defense of World Peace. On her face I wrote a quote from ER: "When will our consciences grow so tender, that we will act to prevent human suffering, rather than avenge it?" (should have written MISERY instead of SUFFERING but I messed up.) This is a quote from her 15-year syndicated newspaper column, My Day, from her Feb 16, 1946 entry.
I wrote "speak kindness" on ER's lips. Then I put a blue St Quilta Cross on ER's chest. Jimmy says it looks like a woodcut, but I made it with a blue fabric marker. Back to my black paint airpen writing, I wrote "Equal Rights for All" on the Washington Monument, beside MLK. On the Statue of Liberty's crown, I wrote "I am my sister and brother's keeper. Do something." I wrote "Justice for All" on ER's hatband and drew one of my Peace Roses on her hair. I've been adding lots of little details that I think will make the piece feel more finished to me.
11-24: I've been underlining some words here and there, and going over some, trying to give the piece more visual energy. Today I made the casing and am hand sewing it on, with my most elegant blind hem stitches, the fanciest sewing I do on these pieces anymore. ☺ I sewed my green Buddha bead on by my copyright symbol and wrote "Namaste, ER" beside it. I sewed the D rings on above the casing, so the piece can hang on small nails, instead of using a rod, if needed. I've been doing that to my pieces for many, many years now. I wrote "nourish" and "replenish" on ER's hands. On the right side of her hat brim, I wrote "A World of Love, ER" which is the name of one of the books about Eleanor Roosevelt I've been reading, but that name came from how ER often signed her many letters.
11-25: I drew and wrote ER's birth chart on the back of the quilt. I made a Turtle Moon Studios logo drawing on the back by the label I've been working on. I like this TMS logo about the best of any I've drawn. Think I may use it on my site, as the logo. Every time I've thought the piece was finished, I did another long heat set with my iron. So in the last few days, I've done several of these. The paint should be super-well set now!
11-30: I did my big photoshoot, so NOW this really is a finished piece. No more additions, or I'll have to photo it again!!! I always find out how much I really like a piece, when I photograph it and take lots of detail shots. This one has a lot of complex details in it, and I came away from the photo session really liking this art quilt a lot. It's much smaller than how I like to work with my major pieces, but it's ok. All the invited artists had to make it exactly this size, 60"h x 36"w, for this show. And that's hard for me to achieve, because of how I work, putting the border on the piece BEFORE I quilt it. I have to guess the shrinkage, and that's always tricky. I guess I should see it as keeping me on my toes, to get better and better at figuring out how my works behave in painting shrinkage and sewing shrinkage. But I think this is the last show I'm willing to make an exact size piece for.
12-3: I still have to edit all those pix and put some up here on my site. I'll link to this statement page from my Facebook page, after the January 17, 2015 opening of "Expressions in Equality" at the Visions Art Museum in San Diego, curated by Sheila Frampton-Cooper. I'm also looking ahead to the next piece. I know it'll be a Paring Knives (swords) card theme, but I haven't randomly chosen the actual Tarot card yet. Maybe I'll do that yet tonight! I love seeing what card comes up, and then I start thinking about a good main theme for the piece that will be that card in my Kitchen Tarot deck.
I have enjoyed reading books about ER and some of her own writings, as well as researching articles for this piece. It gave me the excuse to read more about her than I ever have before. Her long autobiography is wonderful, as are the books of her My Day culumn entries. I also enjoyed making many, many portraits of Eleanor Roosevelt and many sketches for this piece's composition, before beginning to draw and paint it with airbrush on this cloth. Delving back into the research, when it came time to write on the work, with my airpen using black fabric paint, I loved finding the best things to tell about ER and her work and many current events going on as I wrote. So this is a time capsule of our present time period, besides being about Eleanor's time and the heartache-filled post WW2 world, where the UN delegates focused intently on making sure the world would never come to such a tragic struggle again, but would now fully honor and demand full human rights for everyone.
As a background current in this piece, it is also one of my Kitchen Tarot card quilts, the Page of Coins, which in my deck are Potholders. In this case, the card symbolizes a youthful energy of enthusiasm for bringing improved living conditions to all, and societal fairness and balance to every culture. Eleanor Roosevelt reminds me of a living Statue of Liberty. And she was friends with Martin Luther King Jr, working with him and many others to remove racism from our world. I put MLK Jr on the left side of the piece, balancing the Statue of Liberty on the right, with Eleanor in the middle. She has one hand on a potholder on a kettle of soup on the stove (to nourish the People,) and one hand on a faucet on the sink (to clean up all the problems in the world.) My intention in making this piece is to show Eleanor's very active involvement in bringing a better lifestyle to the People and improving human rights everywhere.
My favorite part of this piece is the little Eleanor as a Buddha Girl, at the botton of her dress. I feel she had a very spiritual energy in her dedication to helping others, all through her life, not only when she was the First Lady from 1933 to 1945 and when she was a US delegate to the UN from 1946 to 1962. I hope we can all strive to pick up some of her habits of helping others and fighting for human rights.
If you are interested in studying with me, please check out my Turtle Art Camps, which I teach here at my home and studios, as well as classes that I teach at other places, listed on the main page of this site.
Read all about my Turtle Art Camp - how it works for your weeklong artmaking experience here in Wooster, Ohio, and see the changes I've made to the agenda. I have many large photos on the page, to show what's going on at this biosphere-like art experience. The emphasis in this adult students' art camp is on painting, so you can draw and paint all week on paper or canvas, instead of drawing and painting on cloth, if you like, and you don't even have to try my airpen and airbrush, or my sewing techniques, if you don't want to. If you want to study my personal painting and quilting processes, which I've taught consistently here, I have a full lesson plan for the week. So you can go by that plan or do more of your own thing, with my guidance. I want my art camp to help you become more open to letting your art flow out, in whatever medium you want it to be in. I have even had students over the years who are mainly writers, not visual artists. I started my Turtle Art Camps in 1994 and they're going strong. Look for my 2015 TAC schedule by the end of October, 2014.
Many thanks, Susan, Lucky
Susan Shie, Wooster, Ohio, December 5, 2014
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