8/2/08

Basho Statement

I wrote this piece to hang on the wall next to the Basho series...it has already led to several deep conversations, since so many people have someone they know who has gone through breast cancer.....



In 2003 I was diagnosed with breast cancer, underwent the standard treatment, (surgery, chemo, radiation), and began living with the spectre of cancer in my life. I read that Anna Halprinn calls the experience of having cancer and facing ones own mortality, “as enlightenment at gunpoint”. I found that to be an apt metaphor for my feelings as well. In my case it also gave me the opportunity to see making art (visual art in my case) not as just a way of self expression, but also as a path to healing.

My first effort in that direction was to name some small amulets I had just begun making as “guardian spirits”. I had made the first one just a few months before my diagnosis and often wonder about their coming into my life at just that point.

The fiber and bead amulets were in the shape of the “hamsa” hand of the mideast that are used as amulets against bad luck or evil spirits. I added a small face and hands and breasts (almost all my guardians have been female) and a necklace for those who want to wear them, and began to sell and give them away. I sold them in the galleries that carried my beaded jewelry and gave away a few to folks who had been diagnosed with cancer or other life threatening illnesses.

Three years later I realized that I needed to take another step toward self healing. The amulets were for protection but I wanted to heal myself, to help my body get back into balance...to go from defense to offence. I didn’t want to sit and wait for cancer to attack again....I wanted to make myself a very unwelcoming host.

One of the best ways of dealing with anxiety and stress for me is to make art, so I was looking for something I could relate to healing and ran across a short quote from Basho regarding his journey, in 1689, to the northern interior of Japan. This led me to the translation of the book made by Sam Hamil in 1991. In his translation, I read that the title of the book referred both to the physical journey Basho made, and to the spiritual journey that went step by step with the actual road he traveled. I felt a strong connection to the idea of a spiritual journey and decided to make a series of bead embroideries that related both to Basho’s journey and to mine. His trip had been separated into 44 different sections, loosely based on the towns he reached each night, so I decided to make 44 different 4x4 inch bead embroideries.

I started collecting fabric ( I work most of my bead embroideries on cotton batik fabrics backed by a heavier pellon for support) in December of 2006 and started beading the first piece in January 2007. I finished the series in July 2008.

13 comments:

paulahewitt said...

thanks for sharing this Bobbi - it was good to read about your motivation for these. I trust evey thing is fine now, healthwise

KV said...

Well written, Bobbi. I can imagine how much inspiration many folks can take from all of this.


Kathy V in NM

abeadlady said...

It's good to know the backround of the artwork you are seeing. This is well written and I enjoyed reading it.

Arline

LJ said...

Bobbi...Your work always touches me..the "serious" stuff...the basho piece. And it's easy to see that it comes from a deep place within. I'm grateful to have met you (at least in cyber space)and grateful that you shared your story and the profoundly moving work that's arisen from your life.

beadbabe49 said...

thank you all so much for taking the time to visit and comment...you make me feel very fortunate.

Pursuing Art... said...

Absolutely beautiful and I believe you found the perfect connection to help in your healing...physically and spiritually!

Creating art has always brought me peace during stressful times in my life and not so stressful times!

xo~Lisa

Magpie Sue said...

Ahh, so glad to have the whole story at last!

freebird said...

Great journal post. It does seem as if the amulets appeared at the time you would need them most. And it's good you decided to go on the offensive. Will enjoy seeing where you go next on your journey.

Hélène H said...

Very moving post.

I find it wonderful that you gave away some of your amulets.

Allegra Smith said...

Ah, the things we find hold us together as people who love beads...

Being a breast and ovarian cancer survivor I can understand only too well the specter of the beast, but I find joy in knowing that others see it for what it is: some times we can fight and win and in the victory we find a strength we didn't know we had.

I love salvia, I wish you may never find "a miscanthus bud!" growing next to it.

beadbabe49 said...

I agree totally, allegra...and what the heck is a miscanthus bud? I'll have to get my gardener working on that one!

Allegra Smith said...

A favorite Basho haiku of mine, and here is Wikipedia to the rescue:

"That winter, he took the surprising step of moving across the river to Fukagawa, out of the public eye and towards a more reclusive life.His disciples built him a rustic hut and planted a banana tree (芭蕉, bashō?) in the yard, giving Bashō a new haigō and his first permanent home. He appreciated the plant very much, and was not happy to see Fukagawa's native miscanthus growing alongside it:

bashō uete / mazu nikumu ogi no / futaba kana

by my new banana plant / the first sign of something I loathe— / a miscanthus bud! [1680]"

thus the reference and as far as I know Miscanthus is a family of very large grasses that can easily take over just about 6 feet and over in diameter where planted. Can you feel his pain? Smiles,

beadbabe49 said...

ah...thanks for the explaination...that's not one of his haiku I'm familiar with....but I love the crankiness of it!