The Personalized Ex-Voto Enshrined

The personalized ex-votos are a series of beaded brooches. Each elevates small found objects through exquisitely lush beading. Each brooch is a combination of a found object, anything from rocks and shells, to oil caps or bingo chips, and beading. The objects come from my large and eclectic collection. Each was chosen from the collection on the spur of the moment with whatever mood that stuck me at the time. As if the individual piece was calling me from the crowd asking “pick me, save me.” The beading is equally varied the found objects are peyote bezeled into place and then the rest of the form is bead embroidered. The embroidery takes on a range of styles. Colors are chosen to match the found object, or because they match the mood I was in while creating. The factor that pulls the individual pieces together is their form. The brooches are each in the shape of a heart. This traditional Milagro shape symbolizes my personal wish for healing. I would like my heart to heal after the recent loss of my great aunt, aunt, and grandmother in the past year. I am looking to the Milagro form to help me work through the healing process. With the help of the Milagro I’m letting the responsibility out of my hands and giving it to a higher power. Through the tedious bead work I’m putting hours of love, thought and hope into, each piece. On the backs, in laser cut leather, are the conclusions to letters stating “love always, your friend, or love you.” these conclusions are very important, they connect to the letters, but say something more. The last words my grandmother said to me were “see you later honey, I love you.” I reference this on the backs of the brooches, although the statements may not be the same the meaning is clear that even in concluding we offer love.

Milagros would traditionally be placed into a church and offered to a patron saint. The lack of both Milagro and Ex-Voto traditions across the majority of the United States makes it virtually impossible for me to offer up my suffering to a patron saint. Instead I turn to a secular form of votive offering I give my suffering the public and the world at large. I send out my efforts trials and tribulations to the universe and hope that sympathizers and empathizers will be influenced to see my journey toward healing and be inspired to take that first difficult step on their own path. Although their trials, tribulations and efforts might be to a very different end than my own; the goal is to show that each of us has something we wish for, hope for, or pray for.

A TED Talk given by Ash Beckman about coming out of the closet sums up this idea perfectly, “there is no harder, there is just hard. We need to stop ranking our hard against everyone else’s hard to make us feel better or worse about our closets and just commiserate on the fact that we all have hard. At some point in our lives, we all live in closets, and they may feel safe, or at least safer than what lies on the other side of that door. But I am here to tell you, no matter what your walls are made of, a closet is no place for a person to live[1].” The brooches contain hours upon hours of work. Each stitch is working to pull me from my own form of purgatory; to pull me out of depression, out of my closet, and back into the light. Each finished piece piled atop the next shows me overcoming, growing and learning. In the end I’m elevated. No longer where I was and well on the way to getting where I want to be. Each piece acts as journey, a triumph, and a step in the right direction.

For the personalized ex-votos enshrined, Each brooch is housed in an individualized box. The boxes will act as personalized shines decorated and embellished to hold a specific Milagros brooch. The boxes are then combined into larger groupings and housed in laser cut structures. Each structure contains 3-5 boxes which are removable as are the brooches inside them.

[1] “Ash Beckham: We’re all hiding something. Let’s find the courage to open up .” TED Talk. Ash Beckham. 1 Feb. 2014. Web. Transcript.

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