Sacred Threads Featured Quilt: Forget Me Not
By Petie Szabo
When I attended the Arts Ministry’s “Sacred Threads” exhibit on January 13th, I was immediately attracted to the quilt made by Gerrie Lynne Thompson of Happy Valley, Oregon, titled “Forget Me Not.” It is nearly life size and shows a frontal, three-quarter view of a statuesque, almost Amazonian woman, who appears to be in the process of disintegrating. The quilt is made from fabric in shades of grey and blue. The stitching and the flow of her tresses make her appear to be windblown, with movement in the quilt from left to right. While her right side cannot be seen, the figure appears to be solid.
But as I looked toward the right-hand side of the quilt, pieces of her torso and especially her left arm seemed to be disjointed and in the process of decay or disorganization. The emotions aroused in me by this quilt are quite familiar. Having passed three score years and ten, I am able to relate to the aging process that this art work represents; the feeling that my body is falling apart and that I am no longer able to do physical activities that were easy when I was young, or even a few years ago. Gray and thinning hair, wrinkles, medical issues that require intervention, insomnia, forgetfulness, periodic anxiety and fear of loss of mental acuity all are part of my life now.
Another way of looking at this quilt, especially given the title, “Forget Me Not”, is that our memories of persons we loved and of our previous, youthful selves, tend to fade with time. While some aspects of the person/self we remember may remain more concrete, such as the face in the quilt, other memories may be more ephemeral and dissipate. As the background of the quilt fades from dark to light gray on the right, the left arm and hand become lighter in tone and begin to disappear into the background.
Ms. Thompson, in her posted notes and in those in her audio tour, emphasizes the loss of societal value experienced by older persons. She states that her intent was to represent herself as a person who is resisting that loss in status and refuses to fade away. I believe this is why she chose to include her work in the “Inspiration” section of the exhibition.
A comforting verse from the Old Testament that is relevant to the theme of aging is the promise made by God in Isaiah 46:4, “Even to your old age I will be the same. And even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you. And I will bear you and I will deliver you.”