“There’s Something Between Us” by Heidi Parkes
This is one in a series of posts featuring an artist whose work is included in the Threads of Resistance exhibition.
In recent years, my mother’s politics have shifted, and she has made it clear that she doesn’t want to discuss her politics with my brother or me. This election has been deeply troubling, and has raised ethical questions that I cannot shrug off as ‘just politics.’ It has created a tangible discomfort in our relationship.
This quilt is an attempt to communicate my heartache over this political divide, as expressed in words, artifacts, and abstract mark making. There are seven phrases embroidered and visible with varying levels of ease, articulating a combination of facts and questions. The quilt is made with a curtain that my mom helped me buy, and that she hemmed for me by hand. These stitches are present in testament to my mother’s deep love for me. They remind me of the countless ways that my mother continues to show her love and care for me. There are two curtains layered in the quilt, and the object, ‘Curtain,’ has many powerfully evocative meanings, in reference to seeing clearly, division of public and private, separation, ‘blinds,’ concealment, privacy, etc. … Employing the techniques of layering, hand quilting, and tying knots, the same threads that were used for language now express visually many of the feelings I am unable to articulate in words to my mother and in embroidered text on this quilt. I feel tied up in knots over this misalignment of values and truths; unraveling, invisible, transparent, snarled, confused…
This work was made with the hope that spending time meditatively and in connection with these objects from my mother – that I could find a way back to loving language with her, while simultaneously holding true to and reaffirming my values as an American. It was also made with an awareness that this divide is echoed in many families across the country.