Optimism and Horror
The embroidery series started out 12 years ago as personal work about a lost love . At the time the pieces were too close to me to think of showing. Since exhibiting that early work in 2007, I have moved on. This new work portrays my take on almost every issue for which I have deep feelings: war, death, love, nature, communication, affection, new life, caring for one another, mercy, sexuality, murder, evil, goodness, balance, and the state of things in general. These days it is not enough for art to be just a form of personal interior expression; now art must address questions that will affect the world or the future of man-kind.
The 2007-8 works encompass life as all of us know it today; they talk about the same things we talk about. This body of work has been two and a half years in the making. I have continued to produce the embroideries with a group of women in San Miguel de Allende. I taught them to embroider 12 years ago and at this point we are like family. My drawings have become more entertaining and complex, and the embroiderer’s skills have increased as well.
I feel sensations from the mention of a topic, or I am moved by a color combination or a certain line quality or form. Sometimes an image of anger or love can give me a physical arousal of some kind, and I recognize it as something I might approach for an embroidery or painting. I remember about 8 years ago, while I was drawing I went “too far”; it felt so liberating. My drawing went past the place where there were fearful taboos and that gave me the courage to revise my process to using no preconceived restrictive ideas. I let the viewer discover my most intimate thoughts and I allowed my thoughts to go wherever the sensations led them. I just kept working past the “too far” and that became my norm.
But today I am no longer isolated as I was in the early works. Now I am experiencing a new connectedness and closeness to others because of the topics I have chosen to explore. The embroideries have taught me to think and respond, to consider at length and take action, and they have shown me what is real.
I am very fond of this work. – Bettie Ward, Optimism and Horror, 2009
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