Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It's All About the Story

I have been making art since childhood. Then, as now, I have an internal dialouge with myself, contemplating the nature of the subject at hand,telling myself a story.

This is the St. Claire of Assisi/Rabbi Harold Kushner shrine. St. Claire is also known as "the Illuminator", and she is the patron saint of television. She is known for transmitting some extremely powerful and effective prayer. Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote the following:

"If prayer worked the way many people think it does, no one would ever die, because no prayer is ever offered more sincerely than the prayer for life, for health and recovery from illness, for ourselves and for those we love.

People who pray for miracles usually don’t get miracles, any more than children who pray for bicycles, good grades, or boyfriends get them as a result of praying. But people who pray for courage, for strength to bear the unbearable, for the grace to remember what they have left instead of what they have lost, very often find their prayers answered. They discover that they have more strength, more courage than they ever knew themselves to have."

The reason I made this shrine is because my brother has ALS, and it is dedicated to people who have chronic or terminal illnesses, their families and caregivers. The words on the TV set say "Pray for Courage". The word painted inside of the shoe is "hope". It is difficult to see it in the photograph, but there is a rose growing out of the TV antenna. On the back of the shrine is Rabbi Harold Kushner's quote and a prayer bank- a slot to deposit written prayers.

This is the story I was telling myself as I was making this shrine: First, it must take place is Los Angeles, because the little house was inspired by the films of David Lynch. An older lady who looks a lot like my Granmma Sara comes home from the hospital. She always looks nice when she goes out- purse, skirt, hair just so. It is late, and she has been there all day. As a matter of fact she has been there every day for the last week or more. Her husband is terribly sick and no one knows what is wrong with him. She has spoken with every specialist, she has waited on all of the test results. Her stomach has been clenching and unclenching.
She has been walking around on hope all week. She doesn't want to lose him. Today she and her husband were told that he has an incurable illness that will claim his life. She goes into the living room and kicks off her shoes, something she never does, she always puts her shoes away in the bedroom closet. The shoe lands under the TV and she doesn't care. She was walking around on hope, but the worst has happened. Now she has to go to sleep alone in their bed. Now she has to imagine life without him. Now she has to anticipate the terrible pain of loss. At this point I just want to help this lady who reminds me of my Gramma Sara so badly. I don't want her to be crushed by hopelessness. The mermaid sits on the TV where she has been for the last fifty years, probably a wedding gift. She has been dusted every week, not a chip on her. She is sweet, but no help really. So I put Rabbi Harold and St. Claire in the room to look over the lady, so she won't be so alone. I need to know that someone has this lady's back, or I won't sleep. She's going to need their help.

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