As the news was breaking about the Crowns’ decision to retry the case, I was in Altona with my daughter, Odia. It was an emotional day, not only because of Candace – but because of Odia’s story that I was experiencing in a new way.
It’s amazing how we can feel that we know someone intimately – and yet not really know them. That is what I was feeling like as we talked the day away.
The first thing we talked about was her featured installation art that she has entitled, The Hem of His Garment. As we talked we are measuring, cutting and hemming the garments.
This year her featured installation art is going to be 144 off-white linen garments stylized as 6 foot lengths of cloth approximately 12-18 inches in width, hanging on a 8’x8’x8’ silver aluminum rectangle apparatus 7’ off the ground.
This garment sculpture will simulate a crowd of people or a crowd of garments as it were. One garment in the center will have a dyed red hem. This red hem will be the only distinguishing factor from the other garments.
To create this substantial piece, she needed to apply to the Manitoba Craft Council Craft Grant in 2010 to purchase a loom and frame for the piece. After the loom arrived she had to take weaving classes because she had never woven on a loom before.
She was drawn to this story because of her own need of healing. For 17 years she and her husband had been trying for a child, with one miscarriage in 2006. The accumulated monthly disappointments - as you can well imagine - were difficult to deal with so she yearned for healing. Because of issues with her own body, she identified with the woman who had an issue of blood who touched the hem of Christ's garment.
This piece comes out of her burning question. “How do I become whole? How do I touch the Hem of His garment? Jesus isn't a physical person lost in a crowd that I can hope to touch, so I determined that I would create my own crowd. I would create a crowd of hems and create Jesus in the center,” she says.
Sitting at the serger hemming the garments, she says. “I didn't know what healing would look like for me. I knew it might not result in a baby, but I still had to do it. So I wove each garment - thread by thread, my way of pushing through the crowd."
It took her approximately 5 hours to weave each garment a total of 120 hours to weave all of them - which she did whenever her busy schedule allowed.
Why do it? "I just wanted to make this work of art as an encouragement. I wanted others to see what the healing journey looks like to me, which is to create something out of my pain. It wasn't about receiving anything. I was quite excited about the idea of just having these garments hanging there. I wanted to make something beautiful and share it with others. I never imagined that I would be pregnant on the first show of this piece."
YES! Can you imagine that? She is now 7 months pregnant and due in June. Even this pregnancy hasn't been easy, she is currently on bed rest until the end of June.
She is glowing. "This piece, manifests the internal search and eternal longing to be healed, which is often unnoticed and unknown to everyone else," she says.
As she tells me this story again - and as I see the garments beginning to take shape - as I touch the garments - as I see it all coming together - as I see her pain in a new way, I also see her courage. I see her light, - and I am humbled, proud and absolutely amazed at her strength. Through her art I am able to see her soul....
I am reminded that, that is exactly what art is all about.
Unfortunately, Odia won't be able to be at the opening, Good/Bad Friday, but we do hope to have her at the Artist Talk night.
She gives permission to interact with her art. "Please enjoy and feel free to make your way and touch the hem of His garment."
And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. For she said to herself, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.” But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour. - Apostle Matthew