Intentional and unintentional crucifixes

This one’s intentional. Hand pieced. Seams tacked open. Only frustration? That red, white and blue fabric (which happens to be from Africa) melts under an iron. Almost ruined the piece twice.

Went to BC library this morning again where I photographed another intentional cross. This is the church that K and I were married in (not by a priest). I see crosses everywhere. 



I was thinking about Michael Brown when I took the shot of the telephone pole yesterday (the anniversary of his death). It’s not the first time I’ve viewed the black men being slaughtered in American streets as sacrifices.

These are not casual deaths. These are not unintentional deaths.

african-christ-deemallonIs it possible that if Michael Brown or Trayvon Martin could look down on our streets and read BLM twitter feeds and watch the various federal investigations and reports about police practices coming out (Ferguson’s earlier in the year, Baltimore’s today), they might actually think that their sacrifices were not in vain?

The recurring discovery of crosses in my quilts stems partially and almost accidentally from a tendency to design in thirds. But not exclusively. It also arises out of an enduring resonance with Catholic symbols. It turns out that the rejection of Catholic culture, rites, texts, and even the Savior himself, has not meant a wholesale rejection of its symbols. This confuses me a little but maybe there’s some sort of internal logic there, even if only as evidence of genetic memory.



That’s me on the left on the day of my First Communion. Nana is probably pinching me. Or maybe she has just scared the shit out of me by announcing that the bees that were floating in and out of the tulips behind us would go right down my throat if I ate any more grape jelly. (This from a woman who said the Rosary at least twice a day and attended Mass every morning in Queens, NY. Imagine what she might have said or done without all that praying). Look at my sister, being such a good girl for the camera. Gawd.IMG_1405

6 thoughts on “Intentional and unintentional crucifixes

  1. saskia

    having spent a chunk of my childhood in the catholic south of the Netherlands (whereas the rest is more protestant/calvinist) I was somewhat allergic to all symbols catholic or even religious for a long while, although of course in art college I came to understand the (financial) necessity of relations between powerful men (mostly) and artists and those in power were often religious to some degree, or had to at least to be seen as pious and devoted to god……now that I am older and have seen and experienced so much more, I feel I better appreciate our inner deeply felt needs for symbols, religious or otherwise and part of creating is making sense of what surrounds, feeds, inspires and/or moves us and this has to be expressed in whatever way we can

  2. Mo Crow

    am reading Patti mith’s M Train brilliant and here’s a facvourite from her 1975 album horses
    “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine…”
    when I was 10 I figured the best way to get to heaven was become a saint, by the time I was 12 I realized that was never going to happen and left the church at 14, but being a Catholic both the guilt and the love of ritual never leaves…

    1. deemallon

      Was thinking about my Catholic past today. I felt my first outrage at eight. But that was also when I wanted to be a nun (on account of the beads and the gilt edged missiles). Begged my mother to take me to the Unitarian church when I was 11 which to her credit she did. Was never confirmed, therefore. In college studied pagan myth; learned ancient Irish, went to Ireland, came back studied the Marist cults and more with the upshot that I was able to claim a little back.

  3. ravenandsparrow

    Ah, the powerful undercurrent of Catholicism. I, too, have let the beliefs and practice fall away, but find the symbols still compelling. Protestantism encouraged a more personal relationship with god but brought everything down to a human level. Catholicism preserved the mystery and awesomeness of a divine order larger than any understanding in every celebration of Mass even as an unbearable (for me) accretion of human controlling mechanisms accumulated around it. The cross symbolizes the darkest depths of human cruelty and the highest order of sacrifice and oblation. It is a perfectly appropriate symbol for the martyrs in our continuing quest to transcend our inchoate racial fears.

    1. deemallon

      Beautifully said, Dana. The cross on a simple level represents transformation and sacrifice. But as you note, it has a particular depth as a symbol that charges it beyond that.


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