Dear LaLa (and all my kids),
I cried selfishly on 9/11/2001 as the ripple effects of horrific events threatened your life inside mine. Tears flowed uncontrollably as screaming thoughts in my head had enough exclamation marks to kick-start pre-term contractions. On that day, fear, anger, and pain sucked the joy out of being pregnant.
In the moments that followed, while I obeyed other doctors' orders to rest at home, I often thought about one dear patient I saw in my office clinic on the morning of 9/11. In real time, we learned about the events in NYC as he said to me, "Why can't we all just get along..." Stumped for words, my heart ached as I narrowed in on one thought: "How will I raise my kids in this hateful world?" So I decided to take "bed rest" orders as prescription to guard you from repeated images of violence in the news and I took up knitting. Your pastel colored baby blanket is far from perfect, but it worked. The quiet and purposeful act of using my hands while focusing on you, my sweet baby, slowly helped reclaim the joy of being your mommy.
In the years of mother-daughter bonding since 2001, my hands use more familiar tools to make art. In September 2010, I painted Remember September as a note-to-self and a reply to my patient's bigger question posed nine years earlier: choose love. When we consciously, actively, and generously give love in everyday acts of kindness, I believe we will find many moments of joy to ease some bits of suffering. Although I sometimes still cry selfishly for you and me, I believe our love is stronger than all the hate out there.
I love you always.
This week, I spent bittersweet moments taking down my art at the Small House. As I took apart "No Strings Attached," I thought about one curious 9-year-old viewer who asked, "What's 'NFS'?" written on an art label. At the time, my short answer was, "NFS means 'not for sale' and this piece of art (#MOMSwork), I have chosen not to sell." I went on to explain the ephemeral nature of installation art and how #MOMSwork would come down at the end of the show, its parts disassembled and never to be viewed as it hung in the gallery this summer. At some point in the process of making #MOMSwork, I realized that it was conceptually and visually bigger than me, and that I would have to let it go, one piece and one moment at a time. In the moments ahead, I'll add my 'GYang' signature to each used #dryersheet portrait. Then, I hope to return each portrait to the individual who chose to share a personal photo of loved ones in support of my #FACEproject. Thinking back to May 2014 when #FACEproject existed only as an idea, I could not have imagined the immeasurable joy I would get by sharing my work with others. Clearly, I could never claim #MOMSwork as solely mine; and as art, it was simply never meant for sale.
Owner of HYFA. Original art-work signed GYang. Artist, educator, and advocate ...because art matters. Retired Family Physician (MD)