BP Tree #2, Completed 2.2.2019 - Approx. 3.5" Tall

This tree was created out of the wire from the motor to a breast pump as a way to remember the time of life that it was used.

סהל של אהבה

The translation of the Hebrew title of this piece is "Prison of Love."  The wooden frame of the piece, made of cedar 4x4s, was built to give a few more inches of height to my dad's lift chair which he used while he was at home during his decline due to ALS (which he passed away from in Sept of 2017).  The frame and the bars are meant to invoke a prison window, and the wires are meant to represent the tension, intricacy, and complexity that is involved while loving someone through a difficult time/situation/etc.

Working as a hospice chaplain, I see family members and friends do this for their loved ones all the time: by making the choice to be a caregiver for someone on hospice often requires that people choose a "prison of love" in order to do so.  This prison that people choose is difficult, but it is also full of beauty as they love those they care deeply for through all the difficulties and challenges that care giving brings.  The 'prison' is true in every sense of the word as many times care giving necessitates that the caregiver either severely limit or completely give up their ability to be away from the care giving location.  This can also be applied to many other life situations, including being a parent to a small child who is still fully dependent.   

In the detail photos below, note that the wires were pulled hard enough that they've pressed into the wood: this was done on purpose as a symbolic representation of the wear and tear that gets put on caregivers bodies both physically and emotionally.  The piece was quite back-breaking to make, and I put such tension on my hands in pulling the wire that despite wearing gloves my hands hurt enough after doing the piece that even running water over them was painful. 

There are some parts of the black wires that are polished silver, and a single red wire running through the piece - these are meant to invoke the beauty of the struggle of love.

This piece was created as a part of the Advent Art Series at Awaken in St. Paul and so has theological meaning as well.  The seven bars and the seven bolts on top of the piece represent completeness and perfection as it does throughout the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, and the three bolts on the bottom (see detail below) are meant to symbolize the Trinity - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  These three bolts are on the base of the work as the Trinity in Christian theology is the basis for love and creation.  The central word on the piece is "'Immanuel," (which means "God with us") and the text around the piece is Isaiah 53, the Suffering Servant passages which Christian theologians believe point to Jesus as that servant, come to this world in love to give himself as a sacrifice for all.  

The piece is 30" x 30".

Jenna's Tree - מֹשֶׁה מֹשֶׁה וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּנִי

This tree sculpture was a family effort: the tree sculpture is mine, the embroidery was done by Sophia Alexandra Gilbert, and the dying of the cloth was done by Aletheia Gilbert.  The piece is a reference to Exodus 3:4 when Moses sees the burning bush, and יהוה calls out to Moses.  The text is embroidered in Meša Old Hebrew, how Hebrew was written c. 840 BCE. The shadow box is 9x9".

ALS Speech Lament - 3.4.2018

My dad was diagnosed with ALS in March of 2017 and passed away in September of 2017.  Being a full-time hospice worker, I see death every day from every kind of disease imaginable - and I believe that ALS is one of the most difficult diseases.  Not because of the fact that it takes away movement in the arms, lets, feet, and hands (which is tragic enough) but that it ultimately takes away your ability to speak and communicate, while retaining full mental function and awareness.

I've been thinking for a long time about how to communicate this kind of loss through an image, which has been a much longer process than I would have thought because of the multiplicity of things that I'm trying to communicate.  The photo below is the end result of that process.

I don't normally explain my self-portraits in detail, but this one needs that explanation.  The red thread around my mouth is meant to represent both the loss of speech, and to symbolize the motor neurons that die off when someone has ALS.  The blue makeup highlighting my eyes is meant to highlight the fact that ALS does not affect the mind, and that those inflicted with ALS are still 100% aware of what's going on in their own body and around them.  The white background contrasting into the black that I'm wearing is meant to show the body being swallowed up into an internal prison (represented by darkness in this photo), while the mind remains pristine (represented by the white background).