Monday, July 1, 2013

Obon - Honoring Your Ancestors

Obon - 19.25"h x 49.75"w
Charcoal on muslin

The title of last week's article was "The Transitory Nature of the Physical World".  I've decided that I like that tile and will use it as the umbrella title for the series of works I am currently making.

The piece I'm featuring today is Obon which refers to a Japanese tradition of honoring your ancestors.  I found the word while researching ancestor worship.  Obon is a holiday where people visit relatives both living and dead.  People gather to clean the grave sites of their loved ones as a way to honor and remember.  Other parts of the world have similar customs such as The Day of the Dead in Mexico.

In the south there is a custom for churches (especially Baptist congregations) to have a service during the summer that is called Homecoming.  People who may have gone to the church as a child or at some other time in the past attend the service that day.  There is a sermon and then a picnic afterwards.  If the church happens to have it's own cemetery, which many do, people may visit the cemetery and lay wreaths.  It's a family event.

Obon - detail

My family on my mother's side has been in South Carolina for over 300 years.  I have visited some of the grave sites of these ancestors and know a little about them through the stories of my mother who is now 95 years old.   But trying to connect with the idea of these people is always rather difficult for me. I do however honor their lives and wish I could time travel to see them, to see how they lived and what characteristic they had that may still survive in me.

This piece has a mystic quality which lead me on this particular search.  The work is composed from some of the first fabrics I made using charcoal.  The fabric was created in complete innocence, meaning that I had no specific expectations.  Innocence can be a blessed state...especially when the results are something you appreciate.


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  1. this is serious work. I love it.
    Think same as you about wanting to time travel to meet w/my ancestors.

    1. Thanks Christine. That would be some trip. I wonder if we would even "like" one another?

  2. Beautiful. So Terry- does the charcoal rub off? Have you fixed it in some manner. It really is quite beautiful and the stitching is very evocative. J

    1. Hey Judy, The charcoal had been fixed so it does not smudge. The stitching was done on my home machine as the overall size of the piece is small enough for me to be willing to do it this way. xo, t

  3. Yes, I wondered the same, does the charcoal rub off, or did you rub it into the fabric such that it is embedded like a stain?