A Message From Cindy and The Little Red Shoes

The red doll shoes that Cindy gave me on top of the Spice box.

I walked into my studio after having left Jon at the hospital to have his Heart Catheterization.  It was Monday morning and I knew my day would be filled with waiting.  Waiting to hear from the surgeon that Jon was ok.  Waiting to talk to him on the phone since I couldn’t see him in the hospital, waiting to pick him up and bring him home.

I’m not good at waiting.

As I do every  Monday morning, I put my laptop on my desk, but as I plugged it in I saw one little red shoe on my altar.

I closed my eyes and teared up.  “Cindy,” I said out loud and smiled.

Since Cindy gave them to me years ago, the red doll shoes have sat on top of the old painted spice box that hangs above the altar in my studio.

Cindy always understood the symbolism of the red boots that found their way into so many pieces of my art.  It was something we shared from the beginning of our friendship.

“…I read Alice Hoffman’s “Blackbird House”. I wrote on my blog in 2010. “Very Witchy, (I may have to make Rita a pair of red boots.)”

Rita was my alter ego at the time and she appeared in many quilts and fabric paintings including my quilt Silence Of Aprons, which Cindy bought.  I left Rita behind many years ago, but the red/pink boots still appear in my work from time to time.

They are a symbol of my individuality, finding my voice and refusal to compromise my life anymore.

Between Cindy and me, the red boots became synonymous with Dorothy’s ruby slippers and the idea that we’ve always had the power in us to be our true selves.

Cindy died in May.

But I had no doubt when I saw the one red shoe, not on the spice box where it always is, but on my altar that it was a message from Cindy.  I believe that since she can’t text me anymore (although I did get a call from her cell phone, without a voicemail, shortly after she died) she communicated in a way she could.

It seems to me that Cindy was letting me know that she was thinking of me. And what a comfort it was at that moment to hear from her.

“The Daylight Of Conscious Thinking” What’s with the Red Boot?

Detail from the Wedding Ring Quilt
Detail from the Wedding Ring Quilt

“…I’m finding it fascinating what you are doing with this. But for the life of me, I don’t understand the big red boot (Cinderella’s shoe)…how did this idea come to you, and in red??…”

Sandy  left this comment on my blog and I told her I was just thinking about the same thing myself.  And Jon’s  blog post Portraits of Creativity. Writing Class. Portraits of the Soul  is one of the things that got me thinking about it.   In it Jon writes “unconscious forces announce themselves through words, they reveal the nature of our existence.”   This applies not just to words but to any form of self expression such as the images that I use.

I don’t plan what I’m going to do when I begin working on a piece like Wedding Ring Quilt.  What I do is hang the quilt and see what comes to me.  The image of a boot was the first thing I saw.  I had no idea why or what it meant, but I trusted it.   First I filled it in with pink and orange fabric.  But when I looked at it, it wasn’t right.  Right for what?  I still had no idea, I just knew it was the wrong color.  So I made it the “right” color.  And red boots have shown up in a lot of my work.  They’re part of my visual vocabulary.   I think the idea is a combination of Dorothy’s red shoes, my  own red shoes and the red boots that one of the women (I don’t remember her name) wears in one of the stories in Alice Hoffman’s Blackbird House.  They’re partly about defying the norm. 

But the question of  where did the idea come from is just what Jon is writing about.  Why did I see the boot, why did I think of paper dolls and want to incorporate that idea into the piece.  They came from  inside my unconscious.  And to keep this unconscious flow going,while I’m working on the piece I don’t want to think of it too much.  I don’t want my conscious mind forcing it into a direction it’s own direction.   When I look at the piece it’s going to tell me what it’s about.  I’m not going to dictate that to it.

So when Jon writes “unconscious forces announce themselves through words, they reveal the nature of our existence.”  This is exactly what is happening.  This piece is telling me about myself.  Once I bring the images into the physical world I can look at them and delve deeper into understanding their meaning.   And it’s not always easy to do this.  Sometimes what comes up is disturbing, not something that’s easy for me to admit about myself.  But I know understanding and dealing with these things is the only way to grow and move on.  And I don’t want to live in the dark anymore.

And when it works, I’m not just talking to myself.  What my unconscious has released and what I’ve brought  into the light, has the potential to connect to a hidden part in someone else.  So when I read a Mary Olive poem and cry, but don’t understand why I’m crying, that ‘s  just what’s happened.  And if I think about it, if I can figure it out, I bring that unconscious part of myself into the light.  And something about me is revealed.  And I know myself a little bit better.

These pieces that I make are not linear narratives.  They’re circular stories that connect and bounce off each other.  It turns out that this Wedding Ring Quilt, which is traditionally about the union of a woman and a man, in my hands has changed it’s meaning.  And I’m still not completely sure where it’s going, but since I started working on it I’ve been trying to break down the pattern of those intertwined rings.  And as much of my work is about, it speaks of women standing on their own and having a voice.   Cinderella can cover a lot more ground in a pair of red boots than she can in a pair of glass slippers.

Jon wrote “Only that which can be submitted to the magic of words can be brought to the daylight of conscious thinking Word or images, music, dance, mathematics,  whatever your medium.  It’s our voice and the way we connect with each other on a deeper level.  And get to know our true selves.

Full Moon Fiber Art