In a series of paintings I call “Wounded Warrior” I use a torn canvas mended with hand-spun and woven thread from natural organic fibers such as hemp, bamboo, and coconut, as well as recycled materials and acrylic paint to create bold and colorful abstract paintings. These paintings represent healing of both self and the world.
It all began with a torn canvas deemed unusable for a traditional painting. The first canvas I used for this series had been “wounded” in a fall in the studio. I explored possible ways to mend the gash opened on the canvas surface by researching different weaving, mending, darning and connecting techniques.
This process expanded into pieces of art that tied together both organic, recycled, and traditional materials that came to represent the healing processes individuals can experience - and it represents also the beauty of battle scars, no matter whether the battle was an actual battle or an emotional battle within an individual.
As I considered how to “heal” that first torn canvas, I decided to work with a mixture of natural organic fibers hand spun into thread with a hand spindle I fabricated. After spinning the thread, I began to connect the sides of the torn canvas and create a new fabric weave with the fiber I had created. The thick and imperfect texture of the natural fiber contrasted with the smooth white original canvas.
The result was magnificent. I purposefully left parts of the tear open. I then proceeded to incorporate materials I had recycled on the canvas. Strips of plastic grocery store bags fused with heat created valleys and mountains as I glued and distributed them throughout. Torn stories from the past written on pieces of paper were sequentially layered on the painting as I painted bright colored brushstrokes of acrylic paint.
As I considered the process of healing the wounds of the canvases, I found one way to artistically express a process we, warriors of life who are wounded in the battle of living, use to heal ourselves. We can carry our wounds around for a long time before figuring out how to mend them. When we finally decide to do something about it, the wounds may be so large that we may need to research to figure out how to put the pieces back together.
We may want to rely on new trends to fix it all, but at times, what worked thousands of years ago, may just be the solution we need. Actually, we may need a mixture of all types of solutions to get things going again. As we layer our healing, we become who we are. Although there may be holes that are still not patched, and parts not healed, they don’t define who we are. Instead, our scars are our reminder of our tenacity to continue to fight for healing.