I started this work in 2010 because for decades I had collected embroideries and antique fabrics from all over the world. I decided I should put them to use and make something. Sewing for me was nothing new since I had learned how to sew and crochet when I was maybe ten years old.
I even still have a smocked pillow I made when I was 13 and in a Home Economics class. Geez, does anyone still smock? Are there still Home Economics classes? Yep, I am old. :)
I could feel and smell the history of individuals who made and often who had worn those fabrics. I could sense the love in their making and worked to honor and respect their work as I made hats.
I hope I have shown in all of my work the love I have for individual histories and even the histories of inanimate objects. There is a life and history in everything around us.
These are the kind of things I have always thought about and considered.
Who is this? What were they thinking? What should I be thinking? How can I represent this individual with love and respect? Be that an antique eggbeater or a piece of elaborate embroidery.
I decided I wanted to spend my time donating drawings to monkey rescues and ape sanctuaries. Since I had no money to donate, but knew how to draw, this made sense.
2019-2020 I donated ten drawings to the Monkey Helpline which is a Vervet monkey rescue near Durban, South Africa. If you are curious, here is the link to their website.
By the way, the category of great apes includes gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos and humans.
Yes, humans are great apes. :)
This center is a sanctuary for chimpanzees and orangutans who once were bred as exotic pets and as entertainers in zoos, film, and television commercials.
As anyone should know, when these apes grow up, they are strong and are seen by many as not quite as cute as when they were young.
Many of the females were seen only as breeders and their babies would be taken away from them immediately to be raised by humans. Some were bought as pets and then when they got older, the owners did not know what to do with them and sadly many remained caged for years with no physical contact.
There are a lot of sad stories here, but the good thing is that now they live in an amazing complex surrounded by beautiful plants and trees.
Their enclosures are huge and everyone has a lot of room. There are even long chutes that allow the apes to walk around and see what is going on.
Animals who had never known their own kind learn appropriate behaviors within groups. As I write this, I am actually crying at the beauty of this place. This sanctuary is not open to the public, although there are a couple of days a year when there are visitors.
These apes no longer have to perform for people. Since these individuals never lived in the wild, they could never return to the wild, but here they have found heaven. They are fed the best meals imaginable.
They are cared for and loved by their caregivers. These chimpanzees and orangutans have ended up in retirement heaven. In fact, I wish I were an orangutan so that I could go and live there. It is truly paradise.
I have had the honor and privilege to visit the center twice and meet the individuals I have been drawing for years. To date I have finished sixty drawings for the center. The drawings are 30”x 44” inches in size, not quite three by four feet.
When I contacted Patti Ragan the director about the possibility of donating drawings to the center, she sent me many photos from which to choose who I would like to draw.
Well, there was no way in the world that I could make such a choice, so I told her I would just draw everyone.
I still have about twelve left to do, although I read the other day that they might be getting several more chimpanzees, so who knows.
I might be doing these drawings for a long time yet.
Here are a few of my drawings of some of the orangutans and chimpanzees there. Each of these individuals have histories and life stories just as we all do.
I encourage you to go the center's website and read their stories. Click on the link below and then click on Meet the Apes. You will quickly see and understand what I have been talking about through these drawings.
hmmmm… Looking at the drawing of that puppy beside the drawing of Toddy, it looks as if I landed right where I started. In this case that feels like a good thing. :)
Thanks for reading and looking at my work.