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Top By: Allen, Janice L.
Quilted By: Allen, Janice L.
Period: 1976-1999
Contributor: Arizona Quilt Documentation Project, Quilts and Health
ID Number: 130190
Quilt Size: x
Other Notes: QUILT STORIES I am a survivor of childhood sexual and physical trauma and neglect. I grew up in a family with a raging and physically abusive mother, and a father who was a pedophile and lecturer. Any nurturing I received was from my father, and that was a twisted and toxic attention. I received no love from my mother; but rejection and neglect. As a child, my eyes saw the repetitive cycle of my mother beating on my father, and him crying, getting drunk, and molesting. This was my reality. It took me many years to reach a point when I could verbalize these truths, and honestly deliver them back to my parents, and understand them to be theirs to hold, and not mine. The quilts I will share about hold part of my journey to wellness, as the process of creating them helped me through the perils and discoveries of my path to myself; the self I am apart from, and in spite of, the scars of my childhood. In 1991, I received a flyer in the mail, at my home in Colorado Springs, Colorado, inviting those with histories of sexual trauma to participate in an art show. The idea had been introduced by a therapist who had been working with women with histories of sexual abuse and/or rape, as a means to validate their experiences and their journeys. The art show was intended for their benefit, as well as to educate the public regarding sexual trauma. The first show was in 1992, and continued ever two years for about a decade thereafter. Initially, I considered the flyer and threw it on my desk, thinking what a strange idea it was to endeavor to bring a show of this nature out into the public. However, I didn’t through the flyer away! It waited for me on my desk, and I acknowledged it each day for about two weeks, until I eventually picked it up and, with fear and trepidation, made the call. I did not think of myself as an artist, and I told the person on the phone that I was not an artist, and couldn’t paint, sculpt or write, but I could sew. The answer was “yes,” and fabric could be my medium. Besides the birth of my children, I could recall never having been so excited, happy, and frightened in my life! My spirit must have known I was, in fact, preparing for birth. I had been in therapy already, working through childhood trauma, so the foundation was laid. The process of making the quilts allowed me to delve much deeper in my grief work, and I found myself experiencing a catharsis: a great cleansing and healing. I learned to respect the process and, and moreover to listen and to trust it. (Perhaps that is the most difficult for those whose innate trust was impeded due to abuse and neglect.) I finished a Triptych (a fine art; a set of three that work together to tell a story, and yet may stand alone as individuals.) That first show was my unveiling, and began another leg of my healing journey. I will always be grateful for the difficult and deep waters of that creative process, and the fun and excitement I experienced in completing them. These quilts are considered “Art Therapy Quilts,” for the process they offer the creator; however, like a poem or a painting, they may hold different stories for the beholder, and are therefore works of art in and of themselves. I will try and take you on my journey and the birth of these quilts. I give all the credit to God. He directed my journey and gifted me with the love of sewing, and the spirit and strength to heal and to share.
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