Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter Thoughts in a Room Made of Clay

My daughter, Kate is about to graduate with a Master's in Fine Art.  (Yes, we are quite proud, thank you.)  Her Master's Thesis Show has been this month.  It is something quite different than the traditional paintings or sculptures all lined up on display.  Her studies have been in the area of ceramics and she has been especially intrigued with the interplay between fiber and clay.  With that in mind, her show was an installation of a child's room.  Kate is not fond of talking about the details of her work while it is in progress.  So we were not quite sure what we were going to find when we arrived at the reception.  (You can see many more pictures of Kate's show and pictures that show the room as a whole by clicking on the 2 links in this paragraph.)

I walked in and saw the bed she had grown up on and I remembered that as sweet as those times were, she was grown up now to live her own life.  And as I noticed the happy delightful scene in "The Dream" set just outside of the bedroom, I smiled and was reminded of the many times we read The Velveteen Rabbit and how very alive Kate's stuffed friends always were (probably still are as they grumble about being crowded in those packing boxes in the closet). Taking in the room as a whole, I was impressed by how very much work it had been.  As we were complimented repeatedly on Kate's skill and artistry by those that were in a position to know, I joked about hanging a sign around my neck that said, "Yes, I am her mother!"  I looked around at the separate pieces made with such creativity and I was reminded of the innocence of childhood and how precious that is. 

After the initial "cuteness" had sunk in, I began to notice other things, the spring coming up out of the chair with torn upholstery, the broken shoes, the less than perfect forms of the stuffed friends.  The beautiful, yet very heavy quilt made of clay tiles hand crocheted together.  A depth in the work started to emerge showing that life, even childhood, has both the good, the smiles, and the comfort as well as the torn hopes, the stains, and the weight of brokenness.  

The more I thought about this the more profound I found it.  Like the clothes made of clay as thin as the fabric had once been, we are at times quite fragile and in need of special and extra gentle care.  Kate covered the white fabric on the corner chair with clay that covered all the stains from its previous life.  But as the clay dried, the stains reappeared showing that in life, stains must be removed rather than simply covered up.  That is something we are unable to do for ourselves.  We don't have a stain remover strong enough that we can remove the stains of life that are on our souls by ourselves.

I was intrigued with the process Kate had for creating the stuffed friends and the pillows.  After searching and saving them at thrift stores, she saturated the fabric with clay, and like the witch in Hansel and Gretel, she threw them into the oven.  As they were fired, the fabric, the stuffing, and all that we knew them to be before was burned up forever.  They were no more.  What was left was a new self - the clay, hardened and in the perfect form of the object it had covered.  Where it had once been worn and dirty, it was now clean, solid, and strong.  It had been made new.  

The Poet would quickly remind me that this analogy doesn't fit completely.  And I see that.  But I just couldn't help but be reminded that this is what Easter is all about.  We are less than we were created to be.  The brokenness and tears of life have distorted us from how we would like to imagine life.  We are worn out and have tried to cover our stains, just to have them resurface.  That is the message, the hope, of Easter.  If we will cover and saturate ourselves with the One who died and rose again, all that is less within us is removed.  And we are made new again to live new and stronger lives.  He is our hope.

Wind and Honey Creations

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