by Rebecca Landes
"There was something in the water, now that something's in me/ Oh I can't go back, but the reeds are growing out of my fingertips/ I can't go back to the river/ but it's in my roots, in my veins/ it's in my blood and I stain every heart that I use to heal the pain" -Adele, River Lea
I started with the black figure on the purple cloth. It was going to be a patch for something else but something else ended up being for that something else. I was living in a really difficult situation at the time but there was still love all around me. Suddenly, I was making embroideries, or maybe not suddenly but bit by bit, doing some each day, here and there.
Something would happen and I would make an embroidery about it or something would come to me and I knew it was going to be the next embroidery. I'm not sure where this came from. After a year and a half it was finally finished. When I really looked at it for the first time I thought, who made this?
It's about everything up until now. It's about emptiness and sexuality. It's about the body- mine and our collective body. It's about childhood and what I thought my childhood was. It's about being a maker and how I've developed alongside my urges, longings, compulsions and about the bravery in the face of it all.
It's also about specific things with meaning to me as an individual. It's about taking an ocean kayak adventure with my dear brother. We paddled forever to a man-made no-man's land with a lighthouse on it and while there I spontaneously began dancing with bare feet on the massive rectangular boulders.
It's also about how I was home for Thanksgiving and my brother and my sister got into a fight and I had to make something. When I told the story of that image I realized that maybe that was the only way they thought they could connect on that day.
And it's about going to the brightly colored outdoor cabaret in the orchard on the full moon night and being touched by a stranger on my shoulder and wrapping myself in the green wool blanket to be warm.
And how as a child being a maker and an observer saved my life. The pain puddles around my knees into a carpet of beautiful blessings that I can fully and freely share with anyone who can see with their heart.
And it's mostly about emptiness and about the hallway, the in between place, the space between the freaking out and the miracle, where I accept that the holes are the only bridge to discovery.
A dear and brilliant friend tells me that as young children we have no choice but to attach, We have to, we must survive. We attach to what we have, we cannot choose. And my mom tells me the story of feeling overwhelmed when I was born, the dark side of being a first time new mother. A woman came to visit her, the wife of one of my dad's coworkers and with a few simple words my mother felt okay. Our angels are always with us.
I grew up in an environment with a particular structure. Even as a child I could see that it was a prison for many of the others in there with me. That experience also contributed to many of these images.
It is only by Grace that I can look back with love and compassion for all of us who thought life was anything but freedom. I am constantly rewriting the past. I am grateful for everything. Thank you.
Rebecca Landes is an artist who lives in western Massachusetts. She was born on July 1, 1984 in Pennsylvania then grew up and studied textile and fashion design at Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia. Her artwork is influenced by curiosity and experience. Her website is www.rebeccalandes.com.