Sunday, February 5, 2012

Artist Talk Part seven

It wasn't long after I returned from Prague that my mom's treatment stopped working and the tumor began to grow back.  Unfortunately, this time after another surgery, it progressed as the doctors expected.  Over the course of a year, it took away most of her abilities, except her humor, she always held on to that.  When a loved one is very sick and in and out of hospitals, there is a lot of waiting involved.  Waiting in rooms, waiting for doctors, waiting for her to wake up, or sleep peacefully.  Sketchbooks are good friends to have during times like these.  I drew my mom often. 

After awhile, I needed to rid myself of some nervous energy, so I took up hand sewing.  I appliqued strange, comical faces, and then turned them into pillow people.  It was really satisfying and soothing to do.  The first ones I ever made looked like this:

 My husband liked them too.  One night, while waiting in the ER we both took turns sketching plans for more:

After my mom passed, my husband got accepted to grad-school and we moved to Bloomington, IN, a happy town.  It was winter when I finished moving and everything was gray, and cold.  I had a small inheritance from my mom, so I didn't need to find a job right away, and I slowly fell into a deep depression.  Taking care of my mom when she was very sick was difficult in all the ways you can imagine, but I loved it, and it made my life meaningful.  Without her, I wasn't sure who I was or what I was supposed to be doing.  It was a dark time.  I watched bad tv and mindlessly clicked around on the internet.  If it weren't for my dog needing walked, I probably would have never left the house. 

One day, though, I stumbled across these images on the internet:
This may sound bizarre, but for some reason, they were very healing to me.  They are so strange and delightful.  They were like nothing I had ever seen before and they made me want to start making things with my hands again.  Then, I read up on the woman behind these creatures.  She is a Cuban woman, her name is Elsita, and she is now living in LA with her two children and husband.  She made these weird little guys after her son was diagnosed with autism.


Here is what she writes about them:
I have a rule: When things get too serious do something silly.
So I made them. I was so extremely sad when I found out about my son's disease
last week. Things got as serious as I have never ever experienced before in my life.
But honestly, that's all gone, gone with the wind. I am back now from all those dark places and I am here to celebrate life and love. My son is healthy, he is strong and energetic and he is different too which makes him unique. I love you Diego, I love you all little Dudes, and I love everything and everybody!!! Viva la vida!!!!

Elsita has a blog, and I probably read the whole thing in one day, and continued to read every post after that.  She gave me the kick in the pants that I needed.  I have never met her, but I do feel like I owe her so much for getting me out of my depression and motivating me to embrace life and making things again.  Shortly after discovering these guys, I gave myself a mission. I was going to sew a "Pillow Monster" a day for 30 days.  I was going to treat it like my job and see where it would take me.  I really was just looking for a creative jump-start.   To keep myself accountable, I was going to also keep a blog about what I made.  I had no idea that 5 years later I would still be sewing dolls.


unsightly said...

I really like the pictures you chose for this portion. The contrast between the pencil sketches of your mom and the vibrant dolls really drives home the emotional point you're making here.

jessica said...

Nichol, I have loved reading your story, so much sadness you've had to endure, I love that you saw Elsita's work and it inspired you to continue with your own creativity.

People often comment on the colourful world I create, I'm sure that part of what drives us on creatively is a need to put all the sadness into something new and hopeful.

Jess x

Cassandra of Pooknflip said...

This is such an inspirational post. I have never had to deal with something so heavy (as your experience with your mom) in my life - but I have been in very dark places. "Making" is so very therapeutic. I did not know this is wear Pink Cheeks came from - thank you for sharing your story. I love your creations. <3