Stitched and stretched. That’s what I’ve titled this piece because that’s what breast cancer ushered in with every decision I had to make. Cut it. Stitch it. Now, stretch it beyond anything recognizable as you.
Life flew apart like confetti without a party. Not unlike my private-moment, mixed medium attempts at depicting this most bizarre journey. (And so shortly after losing Ray to cancer.) Countless bits and pieces of paper – glued, splattered, pealed back up, and reassembled with the best of intentions – were tossed in the trashcan next to me because they did not fit the picture as I had imagined.
The writer-me has freely spoken about her journey with breast cancer. The artist-me had not taken her shot at it. Quite frankly, she couldn’t get the writer to shut up long enough for the artist to quietly seat herself in the studio and ask, “How do you heal through this with art – not words?”
Each piece of paper, every bit of texture and slap of paint speaks to what this journey feels like through my artist-heart. And, more so, the desperately quiet pieces that landed in the trash with only my tears to witness.
But, you know, there is something tremendously freeing in all of this.
I am stretched and sTReTcHiNg to live poetically. Not apologetically.
There is a hope-filled whimsy that rises in this piece. The space, once held by a breast, flowers into a garden, butterflies seek a new life expression, and a bouquet of thoughts say…
Go for it, honey. Whatever time you have left, sow your wildflower seeds. You don’t have to plant yourself in rows any more.
Time spent creating this piece is just what the doctor in my soul ordered. And I hope it will brighten the path for all women walking though breast cancer – as well as the dear spirits walking with them. I plan on thriving for a long time, but, if I don’t, everyone who loves me knows my legacy celebrates our God-given creative spirit. So, claim my freedom as yours. Don’t plant in rows unless you want to.
My next decision is just around the corner. To nipple. Or not to nipple?
God says to do what delights me. The artist-me says no more cutting or stitching or knotting of the flesh. I am thinking a tattoo for my pretend tata! Yep. I am going to see if I can find a tattoo artist to embellish my tata with an image that will remind me of love, and this new, unapologetic life unfolding. Hmmm. But what shall that image be? Stay tuned, Loves!
–––Originally posted, September 14, 2018, on my old website.–––
October 3, 2019 update on that tattoo: Being that my margins were not clean when the doctor removed my breast, and I chose not to do chemo or radiation, I decided to wait another year for “all clear” before subjecting the skin tissue to inks. Me and my “stand in” are getting used to each other. There is beauty found in watching her scars fade.
PSST! JOIN ME! I am one of many artists donating a piece for silent auction at the Georgia Grown Artisan Gala, October 26, 2019. (Proceeds to benefit The Hope Boutique, our local breast cancer resource that assists with rent/mortgage payments, grocery store and gas gift cards, utility bill payments, and physician copays – in addition to bras, wigs, and prosthetics.) If you are local, join us for a fun evening that will include a wearable art fashion show, food, wine, music, and dancing. Contact me or the Southern Heartland Art Gallery for tickets. (Of course, a fine art print of “Stitched and Stretched” will be up for silent auction.)
Two years of not planting in rows – and counting! WooHoo! As always, I love to hear your thoughts, DEar HEaRTs. You matter to me. XO Bernadette
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