Sorry, these images are crap. I'm house sitting, and all I have access to are a PC laptop with a sticky track pad and a mystifying printer-- (no camera since I sat on mine and pixilated its viewing screen). And sorry, again, the layout is all messed up...
But I'm so excited, I'm showing you anyway:
these are Crazy Quilt squares made by the Sewing Group I work with.
Every member is living a dementia-damaged "smashed-up life", as one woman called it, and these are fleeting artifacts of the people themselves.
I could weep with happiness that after four months at this job, finally the conditions arose for spontaneous, organic creation:
I had set a bag of scraps from our sewing projects (baby bibs, hot pads, bear pillows) on the work table, where some people were cutting out baby bibs. I had also set a bin of fabric out, for other people to sort and fold.
And--wow--in a "your peanut butter got on my chocolate bar" moment, one of the women started arranging scraps on a piece of denim.
[CROW--THIS POST IS FOR YOU!]
(Crow sent us a whole lot of fabric, including cut-up old jeans that provide the base layer, here.)
This woman had done this sort of thing before-- when I first started work and didn't realize how the fabric of our minds--our ability to take action-- becomes like lace when we have dementia. So I had noted it but thought it was a common occurrence.
Well, not with this group it's not (nor, I think with most folks with Alzheimer's etc.).
At any rate, I have not not able to recreate the circumstances under which this sort of free play was possible, until--unwittingly--today
It has bothered me that people who are hired to come in to lead "fine art" projects with the residents mostly offer paint-by-number kind of stuff. And yet, I end up doing that myself---it's easier to give people step-by-step direction---and most of them like it too.
It bothers me, in fact, to be so directive. I don't like giving directions.
And yet, people with dementia need direction because their damaged brains can't provide it anymore. So I accept that direction is a gift, but I try always to give people some choice, even if it's just "red or blue?", and even if they clearly do not welcome choice.
So, today, knowing what I now know, I snatched up this woman's pattern and I said, "Let's make a crazy quilt!"
"Yeah!" she said.
So I set a piece of denim in front of the other sewers and gave them each a pile of scraps (not too many, not overwhelming). "Let's make quilt squares," I said. "Please arrange these scraps on this piece of cloth."
And everyone did.We have seven squares now--I quickly stitched them together on the sewing machine, doing a pretty poor job, but in my hectic work, it's a matter of act now or forever hold your peace.
I hope this wasn't one-time magic, and we can make more. But even if it was just a fleeting moment, these remain like shadow prints of lace on light-sensitive paper.