• The Colors of Grief: A Quilt

    Anna Ruth Gatlin (see profile) , Lindsay Tan
    Research, Learning and scholarship, Quilting, Textile fabrics, Grief therapy
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    Everyone experiences loss. Whether it’s the loss of a job, a home, a person to death or illness, or a lifestyle, loss is a global construct. Everyone grieves differently, and every culture has its own set of rituals and traditions to deal with loss. Many widows in Russia, Greece, and Czechoslovakia wear black for the rest of their lives, while many Mexicans and Mexican-American communities observe “Dia de los Muertos” (the Day of the Dead). Every culture also has color associated with grief: many European and Western communities wear black as a cultural symbol of grief, while in Egypt, Mexico, and Ethiopia, yellow is a primary color of bereavement. In Korea, the Middle East, and India, white symbolizes grief. In Thailand, widows wear purple. (Knox, 2011). The Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle (Kubler-Ross, 1969) has been widely accepted and utilized throughout the Western world as a way to process grief. The stages of the model are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance (Kubler-Ross, 1969). I gathered scraps of discarded clothing from a local tailor representing the invisible community of grief. The quilt was constructed with a combination of mechanical and hand sewing techniques; using a sewing machine and my own hand stitching. The quilt, which measures approximately 66” x 66”, has five primary colorways, each associated with a stage of grief and a culture’s grief process: purple for Denial; orange for Anger; yellow for Bargaining; blue for Depression; and green for Acceptance. Because emotions and feelings undulate, the quilt visually undulates. Each quilt block has a dark side and a light side to illustrate the high points and low points of the grieving process. Within the green quilt blocks—the stage of Acceptance—each previous color is represented somewhere. It’s faint, because grief never really goes away and so neither do the colors.
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    3 months ago
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