(click on a quilt for a larger image)
News of the loss comes. After a period of numbness (center neutral circle), strong feelings follow each other very quickly and with great intensity. (Mad, glad, sad, and scared, represented by coral, yellow, blue, and teal respectively) Gradually, the intensity of the feelings decreases although there may be periods of greater intensity from time to time. After a while, there are moments when other topics get our attention (beige/brown.) Over time, these periods of thinking about something other than the loss and grief become longer and stronger. Our grief and loss never disappear entirely, but the feelings are shorter and less intense. Occasionally, we have brief pangs of strong feelings (metallics.)
Quilt: I'm OK; You're OK. by Bobbi Keppel, 1988. 48" x 48"
Machine pieced; hand quilted. All cotton fabrics
"I'm Ok, You're OK" was designed during a Sunday service at Allen Ave. Unitarian Universalist Church in Portland, ME. Nancy Campbell (then a substance abuse worker and now a UU minister) was speaking on substance abuse recovery. The question which went thru my head was "What would this look like if I could see it instead of hear it?" What appeared in my mind was a square divided into a grid of 4 equal squares to represent the 4 ego states as in the book "I'm OK; You're OK."
For I'm not ok, you're not ok, I chose dark, muddy colors because people in this position seem to be in the dark and confused.
For I'm ok, you're not ok, I chose lavender as the predominant color because it is traditionally associated with sadness as in Christian Easter. Most people seem sad when they are trying to take a "better than" position.
For I'm not ok, you're ok, I chose green to represent the jealousy experienced in the "less than" position.
Finally, for I'm ok, you're ok, I chose reds, corals, pinks, yellows, & oranges - colors which to me are bright, cheerful, and ok.
Some amount of each major color occurs in every quadrant. That's because it seems to me that most people see at least the possibility of other ego states from whichever one they are in. For example, even in the darkness of the I'm not ok, you're not ok position, most people have at least occasional glimpses of feeling better than, less than, or equal to others; so, in that lowest quadrant, green, lavender/purple, and red appear.
Altho I retained the original 4 squares, I blurred the boundaries between them. This blurring represents what I believe is most people's actual experience: they cross/slip over the boundaries easily and often.
Most of the triangles are joined to make strong vertical lines representing the upward path of recovery, but occasionally I rotated a pair to make horizontal lines instead. The resulting zigzags represent the irregularities of the paths to recovery.
The actual quilting stitches outline a variety of objects connected with substance abuse: liquor glasses, a syringe, and a roach clip with joint. The design develops from bottom to top, following the course of recovery: Liquor glasses gradually lose their bases, and their rims turn in so that hearts are formed. The syringe grows roots and leaves to become a green and living plant. The clouds of smoke from the marijuana gradually become heart shaped. The broken hearts and those with holes are mended to become whole. The tears spread out at their tops and become wings.