Wednesday Evening Open House for Individuals or Group Studio Visits


HEALING JOURNEY OF QUILT SQUARE ARTISTS

 


Quilt Square by Stephen MacDonald who says, “My participation in the Monument Project has been the single single most healing and influential event of my life.”
 
STRENGTH THROUGH EMPOWERMENT (link to Empowerment Meditation)

 


ONGOING SUPPORT

 
SELF CARE
EMOTIONAL REACTIONS
OPPORTUNITY TO RE-FRAME
STRENGTH THROUGH EMPOWERMENT
LETTING SUPPORT IN
MANY FORMS OF SUPPORT
STEVEN'S LIST


ONGOING SUPPORT

The Survivor Monument Project was unique in the degree in which it involved survivors who were non-professional artists in creating a major public art work. One of our desires is to share our experiences so others may build upon the lessons gained from our experiences.

There are many different forms of support as you go through your healing journey. We hope that the following pictures and survivor's quotations will help you during your own self care. Due to the sen

 

sitivity of the material being explored, survivors enrolling in workshops were required to have a personal support system in place.

During the workshop period, they were likely to re-evaluate their childhood traumas. We believe it was important to respect the boundaries and pacing of each survivor/artist as they used the power of personal experience to communicate a social message. In respecting their boundaries, we did not push or therapeutically probe the material of the quilt squares.The historic details or emotional issues related to the content of each survivor's square was theirs to disclose or not disclose.

We expected participants to look after themselves and take what came up to their personal support system. Directly following a workshop experience, one survivor/artist wrote:

“I came home last night and immediately had body memory on the next round of issues. It’s really a testimony to the healing effect of art and this monument because I achieved what I wanted to do with my art work last night.

I put down my friend’s name in wax and immortalized a quotation and that felt complete. I can fine tune my quilt square, but it was basically what I wanted to do, so I left it. Then in doing the HandPrints and writing poetry, the other issues started to surface.

Talk about fast healing, resolution or closure. I can see now I would have gone into that body feeling in the art studio if I’d been pressured to read more of my poem or even if someone else had read it. So I feel it is a good thing Michael is a sculptor and a psychotherapist.”

 

 

 

 

 

Some Thoughts and
Rememberings of My Monument
Project Experience

I didn’t keep a journal during the
weeks that I worked on my square
and my poem so now all I can do
is to look back, remember and
assess. Of course, things do
translate differently in retrospect
and I am looking at the
experience through different eyes
for I am changed.

As I look back, it was exciting, the
first reading of the newspaper
article about the Project, the
search for a phone number,
making the call and signing up to
start in a few day’s time. Right
from the beginning something
inside me said, AI have to do this.

I had already been a participant in
several women's survivor groups
and was still seeing a counselor
bi-monthly so I felt confident that
I could handle any memories and
feelings that might be stirred up in
me. I never really considered the
possibility of the Project having
any significant impact on me, but
I was very wrong.

At first, an idea for what I would
put on my square simply would
not come. Ideas that did come
were of obscure images that had
meaning for me but would in my
estimation say nothing to anyone
else. I really wanted something
that would have impact on the
viewer and say something to
them about child abuse. A tall
order I suppose. I was having
trouble meeting my expectations.

Oh well then, I'll just work on the
poetry aspect of the Project.
Having tried to write before,
letters to my abuser and such,
with little success and absolutely
no satisfaction, I launched into
rhyming couplets with a
vengeance. My inspiration had to
come from somewhere inside and
so I went within and remembered
and relived. What I found were
feelings. How I felt about what
had happened to me, something
I'd always avoided. Looking back
now, months later, that time spent
sifting through the memories and
feeling the feelings was the most
disturbing and painful period of
time for me since the sexual
abuse I endured.

Still nothing came, no poem, no
idea for the square. Then, having
just dropped off to sleep one night
I suddenly awoke with a complete
poem in my head, not of the
rhyming variety but poetry
nonetheless. I got up, wrote it out
and went back to bed. In the
morning I realized that somehow,
somewhere a dam had burst. A
poem was already on paper and
ideas for the wax were flowing.
Suddenly, I had found my voice.
I could write something from my
gut from my innermost self that
spoke to others. I couldn't stop
writing. The flood gates were
open. I felt driven, almost out of
control. As scary as it was, a
great relief was mine and
continues to be mine. For, when
old wounds hurt and memories
flow, I can give voice to them
now. They no longer stay choking in silence deep inside.

The Monument itself, a figure with
outstretched arms, even in its
small maquette form, gives me a
special feeling and I can imagine
that in its full size it will reach out
in benediction to all survivors who
visit and the squares of its quilted
robe will tell the stories of those
who made them. Every story
different and yet the same.

In closing, I must say that I will
be forever grateful that I picked
up that out-of-date newspaper
and thus began a journey of
healing thanks to the Monument
Project and its founders. The
process of creating this monument
has validity in and of itself and I
believe that when finished, it will
stand in testament to the strength
and courage of all survivors of
child sexual abuse.

 

 


The Choice

It's a rope
I can hang
Or climb
The choice is mine
It's what I'm left with

A deep cavern
I can see its darkness
Or the light at its end
The choice is mine
Its what I'm left with

A helping hand
I could go alone
Or grab onto its strength
The choice is our's
It's what we start with.

Janet

 

 

Free At Last

I pull, I twist, I squeeze, I stretch
this hard shapeless piece of wax
Wanting to create a picture
that shows the honest facts.

Needing to show the world
my anguish, sorry and pain
Where a child so full of hurt
lay crumpled covered with shame

Shame for things done to me
with choices I never had
Constantly told by all
that I was the one who was bad.

As I manipulate this piece of wax
I feel a warm and cleansing glow.
Where my little spark of hope
can finally start to grow.

Freedom from abuse memories
that are pulled from my dark past
To be healed, respected and believed in
as I begin to shout, AI am free at last!

Cherlyn

 

 

Throughout the Monument Project Workshop Series there was a lot of advice from workshop participants in their evaluation forms on taking care of yourself. They discussed the management of emotional material that might arise for future survivor quilt square artists.

Making a quilt square was more trying than initially expected. The work in the project was not presented as therapeutic or as an alternative to therapy, but it did bring emotional material to the surface. Repeatedly, quilt square participants voiced, “I never realized it would be so powerful.”

Supports were greatly encouraged, specifically because of the intensity of the response that some project participants had felt. Two weeks after her first sculpting session one survivor/artist said,

“I did not realize how hard it would be. To say what I wanted I had to wade back into the muck. It is being more public. Since starting on the square I have done things that I have never done before. So I am being stronger about acknowledging what happened. I have also needed to reach out and use my supports more.”

 

 

EMOTIONAL REACTIONS

It is profound to be involved with the issues of child abuse in such an extensive and intensive manner. Making a quilt square was, for many, more trying than initially expected.

The work in the project was not presented as therapeutic or as an alternative to therapy, but it did bring emotional material to the surface. Repeatedly, quilt square participants voiced, “I never realized it would be so powerful.” Supports were greatly encouraged, specifically because of the intensity of the response that some project participants had felt.

It may not have been until after the survivor/artist moved well into the sculpting process that the full implications of their undertaking was deeply absorbed. Likely, this realization took place gradually in stages and from different perspectives.

Making a quilt square for the Monument is a public, social act focusing on issues that were shrouded by years of secrecy, hiding and shame. Though heroic, going public in social action, and in a concretely constructive manner, is a significant personal step.

Participants knew that their art would have a continuing impact on other individuals and society for centuries. To do this is emotionally empowering.  As well, it can make one feel vulnerable or fragile in unexpected ways.

 

 

OPPORTUNITY TO RE-FRAME

There are many emotions surrounding issues of abuse. Participation in the Monument was often used to cast new interpretations and meanings to the legacy of participant’s history of abuse. Focusing on the constructive potential of the contribution to the Monument Project could be a means of grounding, in response to stress that might arise during the workshops. Knowing that the voice of the art will have a transformational influence on others would likewise have an impact on the survivor/artist. As Dorothy shares:

“My experience with the workshop has many feelings and emotions. It was quite the experience and moment the first night that I was in the workshop with other survivors. The cold sensation of my hand being submerged in the cold plaster, along with the warm sensation in my heart knowing that I was going to begin a project that would be healthy therapy for me and the assurance that I am participating in something worthwhile and that will make a positive difference and also something that can potentially save our innocent children who need us to speak out and educate our society.”

Like Dorothy, others felt empowered and warmed by considering the goodness that will be achieved through their collaboration. Placing emphasis on the positive potential of Monument activity can assist with re-patterning the wounds that were carried from the abuse.

  The group experience, the social action component and the personal exploration all provided a unique potential for examining and re-framing the experiences of the past and the understanding of self. While immersed in the content and power of quilt square, participants were likely to see the wounds and strengths that grew out of the adversity they experienced. A quilt square artist found:

“I understand more of the strengths and the debilitation flowing from the abuse. It is heartening to see others achieve success in their lives, both in terms of healing and of participation. The process of making the pallette required me to focus on outcome or impact for the rest of my life as an alternative to being in the mess. My creativity has been fostered by acceptance of what I can do and by encouragement to do more than I thought possible. I feel less of a victim and survivor, and more of a ‘take charge of my life’ person. I have more ability than I thought."

There was a sense of victory in creating a quilt square for the Monument and public awareness campaign. There were also moments or periods of being face to face with the hurt and pain. One of the tasks during participation was to manage this painful material. “Taking Care of Yourself” during participation in the workshops was, in part, being facilitated through acknowledging personal strengths. Survivor/artists saw themselves as empowered persons seeking a public voice while helping to build an important world monument that addresses the terrible legacy of child abuse.

 

 

LETTING SUPPORT IN (developing Trust Meditation)

 
When confronting painful issues through the quilt square, participants found it was helpful to consciously remind themselves that they were in a supportive and accepting environment. It was a time to listen to and trust the encouraging messages from others. It was important to allow one’s  inner wisdom to guide one’s sense of safety. Part of grounding and being present would come from just being yourself and knowing that you are OK.  Cherlyn found,
“Being accepted and able to ‘do my feelings’ eased my stress. Therefore when I left I didn’t have pent up feelings, though I was so mentally and physically exhausted! The workshops were a validation of my worth. The way we all supported one another helped my feelings where I always wanted to isolate my self. I belonged!”

There were many common bonds available for those sharing this artistic journey, but after being terribly hurt when young it often takes extra effort to let in the support and help that is freely available. Letting support in means not being alone, and it means nurturing trust and patience in oneself and in others. Another workshop participant recommended,

“Be gentle with yourself. Find support. You do not have to be alone anymore. There are people who care and who have the experience and the skill and the commitment to help.”

Maureen wrote after her workshops,

“Gather a support group — know that you will need nurturing — be overt about it. Honour your gut feelings. Get involved in a group that plays fun games — this can change your mood.”

Half a year after completing her quilt square Maureen designed and implemented a play program as a means of closure to wind up each workshop. Maureen’s called her program “Games and Play as Recuperative Exit”.  Her ideas were of great benefit in helping workshop participants (and staff too) in managing and getting rid of some of the stress that could build up in the sculpting and writing workshops.

The Touch

DADDY,
I wanted your touch;
You touched me and I cried.
I needed your touch;
You touched me and I died.
I longed for your touch;
Your touch was denied.

MOTHER,
I wanted your loving touch;
You gave me a stare.
I tried to earn your loving touch;
You gave me a dare.
I believed I had your loving touch;
Your loving touch was to beware.

SIBLINGS,
I hated your touch;
You controlled me with touch.
I denied your touch;
You could do so much.
I avoided your touch;
You forced me to do such.

STRANGER,
I feared your touch;
You offered acceptance.
I evaded your touch;
You provided a chance.
I felt your touch;
You gave me confidence.

Began in April 1997; But not finished until the completion of "The Power of Touch” July 17,1997

Ruth

 

 

 

 

Dare to Hope

I was born February 03/56 full of love, trust, hope and life.
I had a Mind, Body and Soul.
Very early in life my Mind and Soul were violently torn away
by the two people who gave me that life.
I was left with a Body.

My Body was Abused and Beaten on a daily basis.
“I” no longer existed;
“She” came and learned how to be obedient and take the Abuse
without complaint. “She” was just an object to be used.
“She became my Body.

At age 16 I trusted in someone enough to tell about the Abuse.
I truly believe I was on my way back.
I was beaten back to the shell that was “She” to be protected once
more. “We” tried to destroy our body without success.
“We” just existed.

I learned, in 20 years, to use my Mind and think for myself.
I took back my Mind.
At age 36, I reclaimed my life; Mind, Body and Soul. I chose to
walk away from the abusers and learn to love and trust in myself.
I took back my Body.

I accepted myself for who I am and took responsibility for the
choices made but would not take responsibility for what I had no
control over. I did not cause my Abuse!
“I took back my Mind, Body and Soul!”

I know I have a long way to go to fully believe and trust in others
but I DARE to HOPE and I embrace LIFE!
I accept that – “I AM ME!”

Barbara

 

 

 

 

That and More

I carefully step where not before have I tread
With signposts of slow,
walk and run looming ahead
I'm testing the waters with my new found wings
Knowing that life's full of bruises and stings
I'll keep my head high
and let my hopes soar
Life can be joyous
I want that and more.

Stephen

 


 

 

MANY FORMS OF SUPPORT (link to Enhancing Your Support)


Care and support while making a quilt square came from inside each person, from studio staff, from other workshop participants, from friends and family and from the survivors’ professional support people. Gloria suggested,

“Have a Good Support System in place. Do whatever you need to do for yourself to feel safe. While at the workshop the support is there for you. It gets easier to ask for the support and help you need as you settle in the workshops.”

When quilt squares are done they were often brought to therapy to share the victory and accomplishment and sometimes to reflect on the sadness of loss. One quilt square artist Steven shared,

“Today I finished my pallette! A part of me is ecstatic and empowered and yet there is a sense of fear in letting go of what I had created to protect myself. The healing process derived from this artwork has been very empowering. I will take this new found strength and security and apply it to other constructive and fulfilling aspects of my life.”

The victory and accomplishment derived from participation could be bridged into a supportive sense that there are other challenges and victories that can be achieved. There were many ways that were used to extend and enhance the benefits of participation in the Monument. Survivor/Artists explored what was gained, what was started and where did the survivor want to be -- inside themselves and in relationship with others. Participation in the project was far more than an end in itself. It will affect those who participated in it for many years to come.

 

 

STEVEN'S LIST

After finishing his square Steven made a list of goals and activities to continue the sense of success obtained through completing his quilt square. We recommend that you also make your own, personal list of 10 goals and activities.

10 things you can do to move beyond being a “survivor” -  a celebration of your authentic self!

    1. Get involved in activities that force you to focus on the present.
    2. “Gratitude attitude”
    3. Write a letter from the future in which you are enjoying your life. Figure out how you can begin to implement some of the ideas.
    4. Pay attention to the times when you are feeling best and note what you are doing at those times. Do more of those things!
    5. Spend some time each day doing something that reflects one of your hopes goals or a value that you care deeply about!
    6. Learn something new everyday.
    7. Voice your hopes and dreams to a supportive person.
    8. Make a collage reflecting how you most like to spend your time and
      your hopes and dreams for the future.
    9. Describe your hopes and dreams in a journal. Identify how to take
      action towards fulfilling them.
    10. Take yourself on a 2 hour artistic excursion in which you explore a new interest or reclaim an old pleasure.

     

"Follow Site Web Ring"
GO TO: QUILTS AND POEMS


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Sorry you are huret.
Darren

 

 

 

 

 


You're not alone.
Stay strong.
Our prayers
are with you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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*All Rights Reserved
copyright (1991-2004)


Your Donations are Needed
to Bring the Child Abuse Monument Home from the Foundry

* Donations *
* Story of the Monument/Phases of the Project * Phase 1: Design * Phase II: Create * Phase III: Implement * Phase IV:Positioning *
* Monument Overview * Monument Project Organization * Project Story - Flash Movie *
* A Healing Monument * Monument as Social Action * A Gift for Allies in Healing *
* Artistic Director: Michael C. Irving, Ph.D. * Assisting Sculptors * Studio Visits *
* Monument Conception/Creation * Monument Sculpting * Casting the Bronze *
* Quilt Square Workshop Participants *
Heroes of the Monument * Facing Challenges * Monument Lessons * Monument Stories
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* Information on Child Abuse
* Types of Abuse * Impacts of Abuse * Responses to Abuse *
* Resource Links on Child Abuse *
* Survivor Monument Poetry and Quilt Square Books *
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*
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*All Rights Reserved
copyright (1991-2012)