The Survivor Quilt Project:

INCEST SURVIVORS' INTERFAITH QUILT

ARTISTS: Michelle Harris, Collaborators wish to remain anonymous

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To website for:
Dr. Elaine Westerlund

Our quilt is round, organic, whole, and we plan to display it so that viewers can enter into its circle as we had while working on the quilt. We depict a series of women, each honored as aspects of ourselves both as incest survivors and as members of the broader community of women. Gradually, through many hours of discussion and reflection, seven characteristics emerged which we chose to embody in the quilt:
 

  • Woman of Sexuality is full-bodied and sensual, holding two masks representing "The Woman Who is Frigid" and "The Woman Who is a Whore".
     
  • Fragmented Woman struggles to pull together the pieces of herself that are broken and that are reflected back to her in myriad shards of shattered mirrors. One of her hands is held out to say "stop" while the other hand is extended in welcome. Her colors are as explosive as hot lava yet her heart is clearly visible. She is pulled in two directions in her struggle for survival; the house of broken glass is familiar yet she needs to leave it in order to follow her heart.
     
  • Nurturing Woman is big enough to hold the love we need and the love and care we have to give as well. She is a protector for the next generation. Her orange orb is a space she holds to embrace the stories from generation to generation.
     
  • Righteous Anger Woman is young and spunky with big red boots and fire in her heart! She has justified anger and can say, "No. Don't do that!"
     
  • Invisible Woman disappears, or tries to, out of fear, dissociation, and the desperate need for safety.
     
  • Woman of Shame peeks out timidly from behind her hands, trying to hide yet afraid that her bruised self will stick out like a sore thumb.
     
  • Celebration Woman has on her dancing shoes, her skin made of birds, her sunset-colored scarf flowing in the wind, representing finding wholeness.

The center of the quilt is made of concentric rings of color and quilting lines symbolizing the wholeness of each of us individually and as part of a unified world.

We are a variety of women representing many faiths and experiences. One aspect of ourselves drew us together, the management of the insidious impact of incest. In our conversations we found that our faiths overlapped as a hope about beauty in life and nature and our sense of spirit in the world transcending suffering.

Other aspects of our selves are captured in the written statements around the outer edge of the quilt. Floating in the safety of calm blue water and forming a permeable boundary for our imagined world, these statements reflect that fact. The quilt has been embellished with mementos and symbolism important to the creators of the quilt. We invite you, as you gather round this circle quilt, to witness to the experience of survivors......

I am the Woman Who Chose to Survive, I am Safe, I am Shame Woman, I am Grieving Woman, I am OK With Imperfect Woman, I am Celebration Woman, I am the Woman Who Can Leave The House, I am a Mother, I am Invisible Woman, I am the Woman Who Remembers, I am Fragmented Woman, I am a Mother Who Protects, I am a Spiritual Woman, I am Nurturing Woman, I am a Grandmother, I am Whole-Unified Woman, I am Righteous Anger Woman, I am a Sister, I am Frigid Woman, I am Woman of Sexuality, I am The Woman Who Is A Whore, I am the Woman Who Chose To Survive.