Elaine Luther

Disappointment 2
ribbon, vintage buckle, sterling silver beads and fine silver baby fingerprint
7 x 2.6 in.

Medals are traditionally awarded publicly, but this is a medal for my own private disappointment and grief, and outside of an art gallery, I wouldn’t normally show it to anyone, or wear it. After making it, I was able to release the disappointment and move on.

Motherhood, art, death. It’s all tied up for me.

My brother Joe died during “the time of death.” That’s what we call it. In fifteen months, eight beloved people—family, friends, an infant—died.

For a while, my husband and I would say, “It can’t get any worse.” Then it would get worse, so we stopped saying that.

In 2005, my baby daughter died. Before I had kids, I had lots of time, but nothing to say. Now, with three kids, I have no time, but I have something to say, and I’m not afraid. There’s tremendous power in tremendous loss.

I see the little bits and pieces left behind at the playground—a barrette, a pencil, a scrap of ribbon. Who left it? Did they notice it was gone? I see the mystery of a little piece of a broken toy, how it becomes unrecognizable. What is it? What was its purpose?

Ordinary things like a bread tab inspire a new design in my jewelry.These are the things that make up my daily life as a mom— bread tabs and lost barrettes and parts of broken toys.

I find meaning, and solace, and remembrance in the ordinary things that are left behind.

© Elaine Luther