Tag: Ross Art Museum

Nancy Responds to Our Collaboration

A question I am frequently asked  is “What does Nancy think about you stitching her drawings?” And the answer is: “I haven’t a clue, not an inkling.”

She doesn’t give any verbal or physical indication that she understands or even recognizes that I am stitching her marks, that we are in collaboration. My only indicator is how our relationship has changed since June 2012 when she began drawing and I began stitching her drawings. In the 39 years I’d known and loved Nancy prior to June 2012, I was an aside existing in the shadow of The Engineer (a.k.a. Andy) because you see, Nancy has always loved Andy more than I love pocketbooks. “Andy, Andy, Andy,” she would say through her face-sized smile, her love and adoration due in part to the natural bond of affection and in part from her Mother’s influence. Mrs. Chambers – or Mama C as I often called her – talked adoringly of Andy, and Nancy followed suit. Though it stung at times, I always understood that Mrs. C’s first concern was for Nancy’s well being. She knew that Andy would always be in Nancy’s life, and regardless of how many years we had on the books, I was still a question mark that she couldn’t afford to invest in wholeheartedly.

Nevertheless, Mama C knew I loved Nancy with every nano-inch of my heart. She made that obvious. When the institution where Nancy lived contacted Mrs. C asking permission to sterilize Nancy (at least they asked, right?), she invited me to lunch to talk about it. When it was time to move Nancy to another facility, she asked me to go down and have a look then let her know my thoughts. When she was in the hospital and couldn’t attend Nancy’s Parents’ Day, I assured her we would go, and when she was on her deathbed, I told Andy that the best gift we could give his mother was to go visit Nancy, take her some strawberries and cookies “for the friends” like Mrs. C. always did, then go back to the hospital with reassurances, stories, and photos of Nancy’s well being. Yes, it didn’t take all that long for Mrs. C. to believe my assurances that Nancy would always be taken care of (something Mr. C. didn’t invest in until he was on his dying bed), and while maybe there was no doubt about that, I would never be blood kin. I get that.

So Nancy was obvious in her love for Andy and tolerated me. That’s how it went for the longest time. Then came June 2012 when the drawings and stitchings began, and since then there are signs that Nancy, too,  believes I do and always will love her. I am included in her love talk. I am now considered a “pretty good girl” (Nancy’s highest compliment). She wants to hold my hand when we go walking. She turns to talk to me when we’re in the car. Our togetherness is decorated with signs that I have gained her trust and love, and I credit it all to art.

As to what she thinks about our collaboration, as to her response to seeing her drawings in stitch, I haven’t a clue, so yesterday I asked Andy to show her In Our Own Language 3 on exhibit at the Ross Art Museum on the campus of Ohio Wesleyan University while I recorded her reaction. Have a look, and let me turn the question back on you. What do you see? What’s your interpretation of her reaction? What do you think she thinks / how do you think she feels about our collaboration?


In Our Own Language 3 at the Ross Art Museum in Ohio

Y’all know I haven’t had a minute’s regret about launching The 70273 Project. Not a single minutes much as a nano. And yet . . .  a few months ago I found myself going splat.

Splat, I tell you.

I lost myself in the forest of systems and forms and communications and tallying and spreadsheets and planning.  I was putting in the hours, but I just couldn’t catch up – something that wears heavily on an accomplishment-oriented gal – and the next thing you know, I caught myself mourning.

Yes, mourning.

I mourned the loss of my sense of humor. I mourned the loss of my creativity. I mourned the loss of my Self. Never one to stew in a vat of victim-flavored self pity for long, I started poking around, and when I found a Call for Entries for an exhibit at the Ross Art Museum called See My Voice, I sprang, took photos, completed the application, and mashed the Submit button. Several weeks later, the email came: 2 out of the 3 pieces I submitted were juried in!

Meet In Our Own Language 3


and Apocrypha 4

For those of you who don’t know, since June 2012, I stitch the drawings – the marks – made by my sister-in-law Nancy. Every time we visit her (about every-other month), The Engineer and I leave a box or two (10ish reams) of paper and bring home the drawings she’s made since our last visit. I bring them home, archive and title them, then I set about stitching. Once I’ve stitched every drawing in a set, the piece becomes part of the In Our Own Language Series. This third piece contains 274 stitched drawings. Apocrypha 4 is a single drawing from her first set of marks.

Taking 3 of the 5 days we had at home between trips, The Engineer and I scampered up to the Ross Art Museum in Delaware, Ohio for a look-see with our own eyes. It was worth it, y’all. It was  totally worth it. Not only were we accepted, our pieces hung with some exquisite pieces of fiber art created by some prestigious Makers . . .

Like Susan Shie, for example, of whom I’ve been a long-devoted fan
(And for the record, I’m pointing, not touching.)

And Maria Shell.
Color me another long-time devotee.

and Nancy Gamon: Prospecting

and Jo Thomas, Bittersweet the Rose

and Linda Strowbridge, Splintered

and Tasha Owen, Carnival

and Claire Murray Adams, Anonymous Makers
to name a few.

And though I’m certainly not looking for things to do, I’ve begun 2 more pieces that are yet to be titled and must be completed by this fall. But don’t you fret. I promise not to let The 70273 Project run completely off the rails. I’ll just pull 2-3 all-nighters every week, and y’all, losing the sleep will be totally worth it.


Click here to read more about In Our Own Language 1

Here for more about In Our Own Language 2

And here for more about In Our Own Language 3

Then there’s In Our Own Language 16 in which we took a bit of a detour

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Allow me to introduce myself . . .

Hey, Sugar! I'm Jeanne Hewell-Chambers: writer ~ stitcher ~ storyteller ~ one-woman performer ~ creator & founder of The 70273 Project, and I'm mighty glad you're here. Make yourself at home, and if you have any questions, just holler.

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