Jeanne Hewell-Chambers

Playground of Her Soul
mixed media / textile art
57 x 56 in.

Nancy was born into a family of physicians and engineers. It was a world of perfect order, straight lines, black and white. If you followed the formula, the blueprints, the textbooks, you got to where you wanted to go. There was safety, predictability, and the future was bright.

When teenagers hung three year old Nancy by the neck from the swing set, the world went sideways. Lives were shattered. Order became chaos. Black and white grids became shards. The formulas led to nowhere familiar or comfortable. The loss was devastating. Adjustments were made, though with every missed milestone moment, the grief surfaced.

With the vocabulary of about 12 words (6 of them are the word “love”), communicating with my sister-in-law Nancy was difficult on her best days. When she developed dementia, communication became near impossible. Then one day when getting our hot fudge sundaes (with milkshake chasers) took longer than usual, Nancy became fidgety, so I put my journal and pen in front of her, and to my great delight, she started making marks. I began responding to her marks in stitch that very night. Communicating through wordless art deepens our relationship in ways I’d never dreamed possible.

artist’s website

© Jeanne Hewell-Chambers