At left is a powerful piece called "Walking through Fire" by Carolyn Wirtz from Eugene, Oregon. I know this feeling. In fact, I think ever since I was diagnosed with cancer in 1994, I've been living it. Nothing can say it better than Carolyn's artist statement:
"The design for this original art quilt was extremely strong in my mind following a period of a year when three very close and beloved family members were finally emerging from life-threatening health issues. During the months of wondering what the outcomes would be, the following words were constant comfort to me: “…when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:2-3 NRSV) The dove quilted to the right of the sun is a symbol of the Holy Spirit guiding us through the fire that does not consume us."
Drawing strength from our spiritual side, and from the spirituality of others is paramount in surmounting obstacles. No matter what faith you have, to me, this is an important part in surviving.
Even if you don't have a particular faith, I think you can relate to walking through fire when you have a diagnosis which could mean the end of your life or that of a loved one. The light and the sun filtering down through the darkness while flames soar to each side, and the smallness of the person gives this great visual impact.
I also know intimately what Peggy Trickler experience and portrays in her three small quilts:
"Confronted with cancer, I faced my future, as the security of Life was no more, but my security in God was steadfast. The first segment, "Where There is Hope" is the aftermath of my initial diagnosis, when the fragility of my existence surrounded me. In "Where There is Peace," despite the chaos within me, my faith was held fast by the hand of God through this time of uncertainty. The third, "Where There is Joy," carries my joy in the recognition that I am never alone. My soul is healed because of Him and I can sing and dance in His praise."
I think these were actually hung backwards. I think, and I may be wrong, but in looking at the submission photograph and how these faces are oriented, the image on the right portrays the windblown hair which was the diagnosis, the center one is the "Where there is Peace" and the piece on the left of this photo is the one which is "Where there is Joy" as it is looking forward.
This colorful piece is entitled "Crack" and is by
Helen C. Hollingsworth, of Oakton, Virginia. I love the piecing, the jagged shapes and the choice of color. The quilting added to the sharpness of the piece as well.
Helen's statement also says it better than I ever could: "I survived years of childhood emotional abuse partly by building barriers, learning that trust is a dangerous thing. The barrier served as protection, but it also hid my true self, from others as well as myself. In my mind, it is made up of many shards, built up and cemented together over many years. While working on it, I was going through a difficult period in my therapy, and felt hopeless that I would ever be “normal.” What I’ve found is that the barrier is beginning to crack; what is underneath is full of light, and just might be beautiful."
There's no question. It is beautiful. You can just see the light bursting through.
Similar in the color choices is Pat Ryan's "Shadows and Light." I think this spoke to me as I have several friends who have struggled along the same path as Pat.
I have dealt with depression most of my adult life. I called it living in the shadows. In the past few years as I have worked on connecting more with God the shadows have lessened and I now live mostly in the light. The following is from a poem I wrote:
When I’m in the shadows my world is not black.
My life still has texture and colors, though muted.
If I will only look, the light will allow me
to trace the outline of the shadows.
It will define for me the edges and the depths,
while I can still see the light just beyond.
The light shows me the wonders and gifts concealed in the shadows,
along with the pain and the losses that hide there."
Here, Pat has affixed crystals in both the dark portions and the light, adding a depth even in the dark portions. I love the gradations of the shades of violet and yellow. I also feel that the light is winning out.