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  • Writer's pictureApril Gavin

All that Remains

Maite Rodriguez was a victim of the Uvalde massacre at Robb Elementary School on May 24th. Her dream was to grow up to be a marine biologist. Her favorite color was green. The AR-15 that destroyed the life of Maite, her eighteen classmates, and two teachers was so powerful that the entry and exit wounds on her body rendered her unrecognizable. Her family identified her by her shoes - a pair of green, high-top converse. Maite drew a heart in ball point pen on the toe.

All that remains recognizable of Maite are her shoes. My heart is stilled, but there is no peace in it. I ask myself after all the work on this piece if I have captured everything about these shoes I can. They are important and I wonder at people who cannot see their importance. These shoes also lead me to ask what kind of society values guns of this type over the life of a ten year old. What strange form of government prohibits abortion, calls it pro-life, and then upholds the gun laws that then kill children?

The textile I chose to stitch this on is another of my grandmother Gavin's handkerchiefs. I chose the textile for two reasons: 1) As a handkerchief, it is as useless to a head cold as thoughts and prayers are to gun control. 2) The red hearts speak back to the heart on the shoe. It seemed fitting.

May and June felt fractured and torn up in so many ways and the art is a reflection of that. Lotus Sutra is an effort to bring order and beauty to torn and mangled materials. Initially, I thought of rendering this image in a different technique, but ripping paper into small pieces seemed more appropriate.

My piece Phoebe was accepted last week to the 2022 10x10x10xTieton exhibition in Tieton, WA. This exhibition has been around for more than a decade so I am thrilled to be accepted. I was super intimidated applying for this for a few reasons: 1) it is highly competitive - roughly 1,000 people apply yearly, but only 150-ish artists are juried in; 2) there is a print catalogue that each juried artist receives; and 3) the work has to be less than ten inches in any direction including the frame. My choices were to: 1) freak out and hide under the bed; 2) denounce myself as an imposter; or 3) apply anyway and see what happened. As the seagull said, "you miss 100% of the french fries you don't go for." I am glad that I did. The exhibition opens August 6th and runs through October 7th. If you know anyone in the greater Portland, OR/southern Washington area, please be sure to tell them about the show. There will be an online version that I will post when available.

Thanks to everyone who came by open studios in early June. We had every kind of weather the Bay Area can dish out over those two weekends including rain, fog, foggier, and boiling hot. I am grateful to my friend Kerry Vineberg for the picture. I will be doing it again in November.

My mother died on June 1st of ALS. We were not close, but I have to honor two of the things I learned from her. The first is an enduring love of The Beatles. My favorite Beatle is George whom my mother called weird and depressing. Hers was Paul. If you are a Beatle fan, this will tell you everything you need to know. The second thing I learned from here was that it is ok to read for pleasure. Her favorite books were the pulp romance kind - think Barbara Cartland and Philippa Carr. These are not books that I would read, but it was the act of reading in itself. I think she stopped reading at some point though I don't know why. I cannot stop reading, and I read actual books. My idea of hell would be a place without books (or The Beatles). Thanks mom for both of these good things.

This post is way deep and unsettled. I think we all will be more unsettled and more uncomfortable in the time coming. Take time for beauty and laughter so you have the courage to keep going. This goofy photo that Michael Lownie took of me over twenty years ago will help.


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