|Kuan Yin: Mother of Compassion|
This week I packed up my quilt for the Sacred Threads Exhibition in Herndon,Virginia. If any of you live in the area of Washington DC or are visiting in July, I hope you have time to visit this lovely exhibition in Herndon, Virginia (near Dulles Airport). On their website gallery you can view previous shows and they are fascinating! The theme is all about different aspects of spirituality -joy, grief, healing, inspiration etc. The pieces are often very personal. For the visitors, there will be accompanying audio from each artist in our own words describing our work and inspiration.
My piece Kuan Yin: Mother of Compassion was created over a period of two years but the inspiration went back to 1996 when I was finishing my social work thesis on the topic of spirituality and healing from abuse. I interviewed several women counsellors and one was a Vietnamese woman who spoke to me of Kuan Yin. She said she felt that women who were abused could relate to a female image. She described Kuan Yin (kwan yin) as kind, gentle, strong, compassionate - carrying the pain of others as if it were her own. She told me a story of vietnamese refugees fleeing by boat, who were boarded by pirates. Frightened they chanted Kuan Yin's name. The pirates noticed a picture of Kuan Yin on the boat, conferred briefly then left - taking nothing and leaving the people unharmed. To me it was an example of compassion in action. Her stories stayed with me for all these years and has formed the basis of my personal philosophy in my work with abused women.
Years later a friend brought her goddess cards to a get together and there was an image of Kuan Yin. I decided to create a quilt using my own image. I researched the symbols associated with kuan yin and added icons - a rice bowl for feeding the people, a bird and tiger together symbolizing peace, lotus flower symbolized a level of attainment, a blue bottle from which pours the water of life, and the willow branch for fertility, and the ability to bend in the wind. The dragon signifies different things in folklore but for me here it symbolizes strength and feistiness.
The piece is hand stitched applique, the icons were drawn and painted then appliqued to the piece. I used paint, beads and sequins for embellishment and hand quilted the background.
I was thrilled to have this meaningful piece of work accepted into the Sacred Threads exhibition. So Kuan Yin is heading towards Washington for a short visit before returning to Canada's capital. I thought it was rather appropriate because I think our politicians on both sides of the border need a bit of compassion in these troubling times.
I took photos of the packing process and will post shortly. In the meantime I am keeping my fingers crossed that she will arrive safely.