Nadia Myre’s work is on display at the National Museum of the American Indian. Her Scar Project is nestled within the Hide exhibit. For the past five years, Myre has been teaching workshops about healing your scars. She gives participants a ten inch square of linen framed like a small canvas, and then asks you to describe a painful event or wound that left a scar. It can take the shape of a tear in the fabric which then might need to be sewn up or something to add to the surface of the linen. I am thinking of a woven dress on top of the frame.
Some people write on the linen. One piece of writing that spoke to me was “You should be here with me.”
As Richard and I were exploring the different frames and there were many of them, some people with children came in and triggered the alarm. There was carpeting leading up to the wall where the work hung, and if you stepped off the carpet and got too near the wall the alarm would go off.
After I was gesticulating to Richard to read the what was written that spoke to me so directly “You should be here with me,” the guard came up to me and said “careful.”
What interested me about this show was the idea of healing behind it, that everyone has scars, and by creating something out of them you might be healed.
I had heard the story on the radio today about the Seattle area artist Michael Reagan: Fallen Heroes Project drawing portraits of dead soldiers based on their photographs. These portraits helped ease the pain of families who’ve lost loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was a form of healing to get the pictures, and reconnected them in a way nothing else had.
Amanda Pinson, drawn by Michael Reagan
The guard said, ” If you would like to know more about the exhibit I can tell you some things that I know since I am familiar with the work and what it means.” She explained how the artist conducted workshops, and how each work has an accompanying written piece that explains the back story behind the sewn or written word on the canvas. Each of the mounted works has a number that corresponds to the entry in the book that lay on the table near the exhibited frames. The one that the guard thought might interest us was 246, it was sad she explained. The canvas had been sewn in three places, a star in the lower right corner, a diagonal line of stitches dividing the two halves of the frame, and a small dot in the upper left corner.
These three objects were explained in the writing. “My sister had been addicted to drugs since she was 13. When she killed herself she was 44. She ran up the railing really fast, and the star is to show how she became part of the night sky. The little dot is me.”
I could be misremembering this, but it was very sad, as the guard had warned. A story. The power of art to heal.