Heartbreak Objects: Tokens From a Past Place

I received a big box in the mail. Part of an office chair box covered in duct tape. Inside was a stuffed animal, a beeswax candle, a David Bowie Ziggy Stardust Record, and a long letter about a series of uncomfortable and emotionally exploitative relationships…. ending with this one. The remaining objects had been poking around her home for a long time and she didn’t want them anymore. They just reminded her of the past and the person she used to be.

“The record is tattered, scratched and doesn’t play well. Another, final example of giving me butchered versions of things I loved. Dirty copies of the things I cared about. He never really got what it was to have a healthy relationship.”

I heard from her letter a story of self growth and self improvement. As she worked to heal and become more whole, it destroyed the parasitic and abusive relationships around her. Those who benefited from her lack of self confidence and worth. As she grew the life she knew broke apart, and now the work is putting it back together.

This project was really challenging for me… it hit really close to home. Many of my own pieces for the on-going Investigations of Heartbreak and Grief project have the same themes. The objects themselves posed some technical difficulties too- they are not obviously textile materials (not to mention how hard it is to cut up a super cute stuffed animals…!).

I had a sense of her not overcoming, but having to push her way through obstacles. David Bowie looks watchful on the back of the album, and there was a “home sweet home” sign from the stuffed animal. Home should be a place of safety, but I did not get the sense that she felt a sense of home with her partner. He contains her with a watchful look. She expands.

Stephanie is a textile artist and fashion designer who works with themes such as healing, rebuilding, and protecting. Her bravery and honesty in telling me her story was awe inspiring, it was truly a privilege to work on this project with her.

This work is made possible with the generous support of the Winnipeg Arts Council with funding from the City of Winnipeg

Everything Is Fine, Home Sweet Home, 2017. Silk, mohair, cotton, cardboard, reclaimed textiles

I Should be Happy, 2017. Silk, mohair, cotton, cardboard, reclaimed textiles

Carry You, Sinking, 2017. Silk, mohair, cotton, cardboard, reclaimed textiles

To Use It, Is to Destroy it, 2017. Silk, mohair, cotton, cardboard, reclaimed textiles 

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