"The Compost Pot / Death: Card #13 in The Kitchen Tarot." Full view and statement.

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The Compost Pot.©Susan Shie 2006.

"The Compost Pot / Death: Card #13 in The Kitchen Tarot." 2006. 58"h x 53"w. Full view.

Begun Jan 14, 2006. Finished Feb 6, 2006. #313

(#3 in the Peace Cozy Series, after "Wilma (Peace Voodoo)".)

Whole cloth painting on fabric. Beginning design and colors airbrushed on, machine washed to lighten the colors. Then airpen drawing and writing with fabric paint. Machine crazy grid quilted. One row of hand sewing inside edge of border. One Green Temple Buddha Boy bead. One Peace Cozy patch, from the 29 Peace Cozies series begun in Nov, 05.

In my Kitchen Tarot project, this is Card #13, which is the Death card in the traditional deck of Tarot cards.

Since I’ve been working with what I call Stink Pots lately, in which negative energy is composted into good energy, and because my mother used a garbage pail and we use a compost pot for kitchen food scraps, I decided that this compost pot (stink pot) would be the death image in my “deck.”  The Death card’s symbolism is of transformation, not real death per se.  And since I believe in reincarnation, I feel our souls are recycled into new bodies, the way leftovers are recycled into earth again, from which new food can grow.  So it all works for me, the image of composting a soul conceptually - purifying it and returning it as new material for us to keep having experiences through.

In making this piece, I drew a big St Quilta the Comforter, who is the archetype figure I invented many years ago, based on my mother’s warm and generous personality.  She’s dancing with a snake, the animal used often in many traditional tarot decks’ death cards, as the snake sheds its skin, an image of transformation.  St Q has a big compost pot here, and on it are two faces.  Because Coretta Scott King died last week, on Jan 30, 2006, and because my St Q face drawing looks a little like her, I decided that she’s who this St Q is, and that the two faces on the Pot are her and Rosa Parks, who died on Oct 24, 2005.  Now they’re two Peace Mama Angels!

The first anniversary of our cat Willy’s death was Jan 28, and since Jimmy’s still grieving for him a lot, since Willy died unexpectedly of a hear attack when Jimmy took him to the vet, I wanted to put him into this quilt, along with a big dancing cat skeleton.  Then on January 28th, which was a few days ago, we went to the Mexican restaurant we love, El Canelo, and ran into our vet for the first time since Willy died – exactly one year later.  Dr Mairs had no idea it was the anniversary of Willy’s death, but it really hit Jimmy that this was a pretty intense coincidence.

Mike’s friend Matt’s grandmother, Grandma Palazzi, died this month, too.  She was quite the matriarch, and we met her at Gretchen and Mike’s wedding.  I think it just broke a lot of hearts that she died, as she was such a giving and kind person.  She could be this big St Q figure, too, dancing at the wedding.

Ron Jarvis’ mother Dorothy died, too.  He lost his sister and Dad within two weeks of each other last July, and now his mom.  We went to her funeral, and Ron got up and spoke about his family, and I marvel at how he could do that.  He told me he could hardly breathe, while trying to talk right then, but he really celebrated his mother in that talk.

I wrote about the new Robert Cray song and video “Twenty”, which the American Friends Service Committee has on their website, with their “Eyes Wide Open” installation of boots being used in the video.  They travel the boots around the US, one pair for each soldier who’s died in the Iraq war.  And now Robert Cray and his wife, who directed the video, have included the boots in their very powerful peace video about a soldier who comes home.  You can see it on the Friends’ site http://www.afsc.org.  And then you can sign the Friends’ letter to Congress, to stop the war now.

And of course, there are things in the writing on this piece that don’t seem to actually connect to the theme of Death:  Cindy Sheehan being arrested at Bush’s State of the Union speech, for wearing a tee shirt that says: “2,245 Dead. How Many More?”  Oh, that IS about death, isn’t it?  Another woman, a Republican representative’s wife Beverly Young, was also removed for wearing a tee shirt with a message on it about the war. It said “Support our Troops – Protecting our Freedom.”  Yep, like our freedom of speech, for instance…!

Jimmy and I are on this quilt, in St Q’s dress. He’s barbecuing with his Weber, and I’m planting flowers.  These are things we look forward to doing when Spring comes, when Persephone comes back from the dead of Winter!  The food composted after the barbecue will turn into good earth to grow things in… Ah!  And I’ll be home all the time with Jimmy, when my nanny gig with Eva is over this May!

Looks like more snow is coming down, as Winter has finally come back, after our wonderfully balmy January!  Duck and cover. The Underworld is still in rule, in more ways than one.  But let’s all celebrate life and the new lives to come!

Turtle Moon Studios: Outsider Art Quilts and Paintings
Susan Shie and James Acord

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