For the past six months, I’ve been asking people about their broken hearts–really cracked, not minor episodes of disappointment. Most of the time this earthquake of emotion happened to my interviewees during their 20s (a good reason none of us want to return to that decade). The ‘bread’ of that Pure Love is complex, and when we’re in it we want to stay there forever. It seems a noble aim to remain in that suspended state of bliss: to justify our position on the planet and to assure us that everything will be all right as long as we have that love at our side.
And then, for whatever reason, it breaks. Love is not static. Suffering ensues. Pain begins to argue for itself. We cry. Pain becomes a fundamental reality. We can’t mend the broken heart with logical reality. That’s the experience I was asking my interviewees about.
Practically, perhaps this emotional experience is an evolutionary process; by going through it we extract something of value: a tool for taking into account our future self and other people’s future self. A broken heart puts constraints on the interpretation of love, in such a way so we don’t drown again.
How does that connect with my mending broken heart art?
At Mass MoCA I made mono prints of hearts. Now, in my studio in Rome, I am using the mono prints and taking the shared story of people’s broken hearts. Here I puncture the paper with the recorded stories and stitch a reductive aspect of a that story into the paper. I am stitching with silk thread. The intention is to make the artistic process a healing process, through intent and through the viewer’s experience of looking at the finished art. In addition I intend to stitch together the past with the present.
The broken heart, the sacred heart, is a strong visual theme in Christianity. The particular legend/myth/archetype that I am investigating, Santa Vittoria was a martyr– a young woman in her 20s, who was pierced through the heart with a spear for not accepting to worship the goddess Diana. She choose to remain with her Pure Love, Christ. Like her name, surviving the broken heart is Victory.
Vittoria’s life ended but…..not really, since she is representational and lives on in story and reverence. She represents an emotional truth and demonstrated a behavioral truth that people access today.
In our case–being regular people–we still get pierced in the heart when our Pure Love is challenged, and like the saint of ‘Victory’ we live on. We don’t die. We experience her victory. We go on, reorganizing our truth, ideally taking into consideration our self and future self, and learning (consciously or unconsciously) how to protect our self from future suffering.
To make the prints, I collapsed a 3-D heart sculpture that I made out of paper. I used the collapsed heart as a collagraph plate. I am stitching with silk thread using type font of 230 AD..