Day 20 of 20 Days in a Pandemic. It’s still dark outside, there’s a beautiful pink horizon in the East, a half moon still sits in the dark morning sky above, and an owl hoots. The ground is damp on my bare feet as I explore the yard in my nightgown. Bits of fog scatter the October sky. It is a nice reprieve from the heat waves that have hit us back to back and a nice break from our smoke-filled skies. It is hard to believe today is day 20 of my project for “Holding it Together” at the Palo Alto Art Center, https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/gov/depts/csd/artcenter/ . The group of artists from the Being Human Residency, which was two years ago will be showing together. We are all parents and artists and have learned how to keep making art as parents. We all have lulls where our kids take over our lives and everything gets so crazy it’s hard to get back into the studio.
I had a lull from March 2020 to the start of this project. The whole Shelter in Place was a mad scramble to homeschool my kids and keep from going crazy, basically I had to hold it together in any way I could. I ran out of mental and physical energy to do art. I did have a few days I tried to paint with the kids, and that did feed my soul, but it was not sustainable. The house has been a constant mess, there is so much work to do, I never have any private time. But somehow this project emerged and changed me. My house is messier than ever! It was the only way for me to do this project. To let go of things that no longer have value. I think the day my daughter said that I was the butler was a real wake up call. As I stitched the past week something inside me from long ago has emerged. That ability to tune out all that’s around me. Thread the needle, and gently roll through the fabric like gentle waves. There is a beauty about stitching, it can be done in the company of children without issue. My stitched pieces can be transported easily anywhere in the house and cause minimal mess. Maybe that’s why so many women do fiber arts, it’s something that can be done at the kitchen table while dinners cooking.
Parallel to this project I’ve been mired in my daughter’s lack of an appropriate education. I have been studying my ASL and asking questions to all the deaf people and deaf educators I know. Getting information and advice. I’ve been teaching Fiona about self-advocacy and her right to have a teacher of the deaf. I’ve been teaching her it’s not right she has to suffer in school as she has the past year. I have been working so hard here to get a self-contained DHH class, at least until in-person learning returns because virtual is impossible for my daughter and if it’s this hard for my daughter I know it’s hard for other DHH students. Now after all my work to collaborate with the school district and the county to make this happen, I think I must move to the next step and get legal involved. It’s not my way, but I think maybe it’s the way of public education and the only way to make real change happen. It’s politics and money and budget and the wheel that squeaks gets the most grease. So on the 20th day of my project, 20 Days in a Pandemic, a new project re-emerges. I may need to put deaf education and studying education laws in the forefront of my mind. I know that whatever I put my mind to I can achieve.