Tear Swept

The first piece in my Portrait of Pain series: Tear Swept

The fabric of this wall hanging measures 11.5″ across and 41.5″ long. I hand embroidered the face and tears, leaving the tear tracks loose so that they move and rearrange on the surface of the fabric. The fabric is backed with felt and hemmed with a sewing machine. I hand sewed the dowel in place and braided the thread so it could be hung.

The fabric I chose is a creamy white with tiny gold polka dots. This, to me, suggested a kind of mystery and magic, which seemed like the perfect representation for the human spirit.

The face structure was based on my own, including the way the eyebrows knit together. The tears are made from variegated thread so that they are a pale, icy blue when they leave the eyes and become progressively darker the further they fall. The tears are at different lengths, which echo the variation in how long we hurt from different situations. Sometimes we grieve quickly. Other times we ache for weeks or even months.

It can be difficult to feel comfortable experiencing and expressing “negative” emotions like anger and sadness. Those emotions are supposed to be hidden, not exhibited. In making a large wall hanging depicting sadness, I am bringing that feeling into the open and inviting the viewer to reconsider their thoughts on the emotion.

There is beauty to be found in sadness. It is an emotion we have all felt, yet few of us seem to view it as an invitation for connection. Pain gives us an opportunity to deepen relationships. It reminds us that we need other people. Sharing our pain with others, and empathizing with pain that is not our own, is among the most meaningful experiences a person can have. Tear Swept is about the invitation for connection as much as it is about the experience of sadness.

I love how this piece came out and I think it’s a great start to the Portrait of Pain series. Thanks for reading!

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