"Silverware Drawer / Judgement ." Full view and statement.

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The Silverware Drawer / Judgement... ęSusan Shie 2008.

"The Silverware Drawer / Judgement: Card #20 in the Kitchen Tarot.”  Aka “Shie Pie."  2008   85.5"h x 73.5"w     #347
Peace Cozy #19
Begun 12-5-07, fiinished 1-6-08. Detail view.

Materials:    Whole cloth painting on white Kona cotton, fabric paint.  Cotton machine thread, bamboo and organic cotton Poly-fil batting.  Perle cotton embroidery thread. One flameworked pink girl Buddha bead and one green temple Buddha Boy bead.  This is my first major piece to use Nature-fil Bamboo batting by Fairfield, as well as the girl Buddha bead.

Techniques:  Freehand drawing and painting made with airbrush and fabric paint.  Small journal writing made with airpen and fabric paint.  Machine quilting with Mettler cotton thread.  Hand stitching (just on the border) with DMC perle cotton.

The Judgement card in the traditional deck shows an archangel summoning the people, who rise up out of their graves on Judgement Day.  To equate the graves with something in the kitchen, I settled on a drawer, and then on the silverware drawer, because the knives, forks, and spoons COULD be symbols for bodies.  I know:  That’s stretching it!  But when I got that Silverware Drawer image, I remembered how my father always yelled at me “Don’t slam the silverware drawer,” when Mom and I were washing dishes after supper. He’d be lying on his and Mom’s bed, trying to recuperate from a hard day at his job, and in that little house of ours, sounds echoed everywhere.  So I suppose the drawer closing sounded loud to him, with the silverware moving around with its movement.  Still, sometimes I did slam it on purpose, just to get to hear his very predictable yelling at me. 

This made me think about how this piece would fit perfectly with the theme show challenge my local artists’ group, WAGE, had selected for this year’s exhibition:  Ancient Echoes.  I could, and then did, create a piece with a lot of stories from my growing up in a family of six in that little house outside of Smithville, Ohio, in the 50s and 60s.

As usual in my diary writing, I mixed my stories in with current events, like the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan and the convenient burning of many records in Cheney’s office and the National Security Council’s offices in the Eisenhower Building, next to the White House.  It was a time of several deaths:  my artist friend Gwynn Wolf, Jimmy’s Aunt Myra, singer Dan Fogelburg, besides Mrs. Bhutto.  Eva almost spent Christmas in the hospital, due to a pinkeye infection that grew beyond her eyes.  I told lots of stories about my family, only leaving out things I felt would make someone angry at me.  Why upset anyone?

In the piece I show Dad trying to rest in the bed, at the bottom of the painting.  Mom and I are in the kitchen above him, with me giving that drawer a good slam.  The boys are wrestling around in the livingroom, while watching wrestling on TV, and Debi’s making potholders on her little jersey loops loom.  In the middle of the piece, the silverware rises up out of the drawer, and it turns into pies as it floats up.  Pies are my symbols for good things, gifts and blessings.  The silverware breaks down for me as this:  Spoons are kindnesses our parents gave us; knives are the painful parts; and forks are the tools they gave us for getting through life.

I think this may be the most personal of all my artworks so far.  I really got sucked into all these ancient echoes of my childhood, as I listened and smelled and heard and tasted all the crazy, happy, terrible, and strange memories from my youth.  I think our family was very normal and yet very offbeat.   I think every family is dysfunctional and also well meaning.   I was listening to various books on tape as I painted and sewed.  (I can’t listen to books while I’m writing.)  Sarah Vowell’s “ Assassination Vacation” was my favorite book in a long time.  I think her sense of humor is pretty close to being like a Shie’s.  I know she didn’t grow up in Northeast Ohio, so it can’t be the Ghoulardi influence, which all we baby boomers of this part of the state share.  Ah, but it’s more than just Ghoulardi. It’s Dad’s kooky humor – his cannibal jokes and Blackstone quirkiness thrown in with Mom’s light and gentle Mennonite presence.  Man, I can still hear that damn John Philip Sousa march that blared up from the kitchen every morning at 6 AM, when the Gold Star Report came on, and Mom would be up, starting her day.

Silverware and pies, our old neighbor lady, Grandma Geiser, the two house cats PosieDoor and Meow Meow, and our tiny blue Corvairs.  These things all live inside of me and my siblings, Larry, Jimmy, and Debi, and of course in four different versions of our truths.  Reality is just what you believe and remember, and I hope to God none of us gets Alzheimer’s and loses all these precious and amazing impressions, so well grooved into our Shie memory tapes!  It was a bitter and sweet time to grow up, ducking and covering, quaking over going to the dentist and getting polio shots at school.  I treasure these images and wish I could go back and just peek in now and then.  But I can’t, so this is my next best thing.  I loved drawing, painting, and writing it, to share.  Ancient Shie Echoes.

This is the second-to-last of the Major Arcana cards in the Kitchen Tarot deck.  But that only accounts for the first 22 cards of a tarot deck.  Yet to come are the World card and then all 56 Minor Arcana cards.  I have plenty of time and truly am looking forward to working on this deck for many years still to come, even though I started it back in 1998.

Oh yeah, the Shie Pie thing, the secondary title:  Every one of us Shie sibs and our Shie cousins ALL got called Shie Pie at school, by classmates who never knew the nickname, just invented it on their own.  So it must be true.  And this nickname is helpful in knowing how to pronounce my last name.  It’s not She Pea, after all, it’s Shie Pie!

PS.  One more thing:  Last night Barack Obama won the Iowa Caucuses election  for the Dems.  I said back in June, 2004, that he should be our next President, and I sure hope he makes it!  Thanks for all your hard work for him, Michele Hardman!


- Susan, Jan 6, 2008 in Wooster.  Happy New Year!

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